Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Being honest about the ACP


Two weeks ago, on ACP day – an event to the best of my knowledge not widely celebrated – an
unusually frank and honest lecture was delivered at the European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM). This is the Europe-based strategic think tank with a positive and long-standing reputation for being supportive of the countries of the ACP.

What was said was unusually challenging and valid, in that the remarks, albeit delivered in a personal capacity, came from someone who is widely known and respected across Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific, and in EU government circles, because of his deep commitment to the importance of development policy and the nations of the ACP: Geert Laporte, the Deputy Director of ECDPM.

Mr Laporte’s approach was to ask some fundamental questions about the future validity of the ACP as an institution.

Instead of posing the usual question about the desirability of the 79 nation ACP group continuing, he asked whether there was any realistic or feasible basis on which the ACP could be considered to have a future role in relation to ACP-EU cooperation in global governance.

His question was particularly relevant as this has been the recent focus of an ACP Eminent Persons Group and an Ambassadorial Working Group trying to determine the future orientation of the ACP, which beyond its present focus on commodity matters faces an uncertain long-term future.

Why Mr Laporte’s remarks were interesting is that he asked the type of questions that are rarely mentioned in public by governments, politicians or those who are wedded to institutions that are of declining relevance to a much changed world.

Setting aside the subtleties of some of what was said* Geert Laporte asked three fundamental questions.

Firstly, on which global issues has ACP-EU collective action had a major impact; which global issues covered in the ACP-EU partnership have moved to other fora over time; and if there had been a real convergence of interest between the ACP and the EU enabling  both parties to turn global processes to their joint advantage?

Secondly, he asked whether the ACP offered added value on global themes in ways not covered by other institutions, and to what extent it was the best grouping to serve the global interests of its members.

And finally, he questioned the extent to which the ACP-EU partnership plays an important role in furthering the EU’s ambitions and strategic interests.

His response was to consider the ACP from the perspective of current reality rather than through the optic of history or the more normal subjective rhetoric of solidarity, shared interests and partnership.

Tellingly, he pointed out that in the past few years most of the ACP’s roles have been taken over by other international organisations and groupings.

“Security, peace, migration, democracy, and human rights are no longer primarily addressed through the ACP-EU framework”. These global issues have moved elsewhere, he suggested. They were now largely dealt with through the regional or continental fora of the nations of the ACP, he said.

He noted too that the ACP’s economic and trade related roles are being gradually taken over at a regional level and that interaction between the ACP and EU at an official and parliamentary level was waning, with few European Ministers attending ACP-EU Council meetings.

He also questioned whether in comparison to the turn of the century, non-state actors still had an interest. He suggested, for example, most ACP businesses now argue that there is greater opportunity in Asia.

He also asked why it was that if the ACP had validity, it was unable to fund itself and what would happen if European Development Fund support was to disappear.

Geert Laporte’s paper, although not likely to be popular in some parts of the ACP, is above all
realistic and honest.

As Suriname will discover when it takes the position of Secretary General in 2015, if the ACP is not demand led after 2020, or can establish a clear role that delivers positive results, then it is simply living on history and shared experience and will be able to add little if anything to its members’ desire for economic growth and political influence.

The ACP was at its zenith in the latter part of the Cold war, offering the former colonial powers and the transatlantic alliance a bulwark against Soviet communism. Its ability to deliver on its collective interests came largely in relation to negotiating arrangements with Europe that were in the broadest sense preferential. Today in a multi-polar world in which overlapping interests and organisations, and constantly shifting issues-based alliances, it is hard to see what practical value the body can offer its members or Europe not covered by others.

Why China, Brazil or any other emerging powers should want the ACP as an interlocutor also seems questionable when it is clear that both nations have defined approaches to Africa, the Pacific and Caribbean as separate strategic entities, and are now embedded in the G77 and other ascendant international organisations.

As Mr Laporte argues, the time has come for the group to be ‘VERY REALISTIC about its future’ (his capitalisation), what it could do and what it better not do as a group, with the EU or with other nations.

The reality is that the ACP members now have little economic commonality in that it membership includes middle-income countries, less developed countries, and vulnerable, fragile and failed states, making collective action less likely.

Put another way, the message is clear: as with a company, so with a modern state and the institutions to which it belongs. Demand, competitive advantage, a positive brand and having an unique selling point are the prerequisites for survival.

Above all, if the ACP has validity, it should be able to mobilise its own resources from its own member states. If it does not, as sad as it is to write this having lived through much of ACP history, it is an organisation past its time.

Geert Laporte suggested some alternative areas in which the ACP might reinvent itself to offer something of substance in the global arena. It is a part of an argument that seems to owe more to politeness than conviction.

Mr Laporte’s remarks can be read in full at http://ecdpm.org/publications/challenges-global-governance-emerging-world-order-acp-eu-relations-2020/

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

Who rules from financial services rules?


On May 29 the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) issued a public statement in which it said that it “recognises Guyana as a jurisdiction with significant AML/CFT (anti-money laundering and counter terrorism financing) deficiencies”.  

That’s fair enough since Guyana is the only Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country that has not adopted AML/CFT legislation and other measures that have been arbitrarily stipulated by the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and supervised by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

However, in calling on its member-states “to implement further counter measures” against Guyana, CFATF made the absurd statement that it “considers Guyana to be a risk to the international financial system”… absurd because if all the financial transactions and the assets of all the banks in the Caribbean were to be added-up, they would not account for 1% of transactions and assets in the international financial system.

Therefore, Guyana, which has no offshore financial sector – unlike, for instance, the Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Barbados and the British Virgin Islands – could not possibly account for even 0.1% of the transactions and assets of the international financial system.

What possible threat could Guyana, with such a minuscule sum, pose to the international financial system? It is akin to suggesting that a gnat could fall an army of elephants. Nonetheless, the FATF will now tell the world to blacklist Guyana for all financial transactions.

As a former Chairman of CFATF, I see no value in that organisation, which is supposed to be representative of the interests of its member-states, including Guyana, over-exaggerating the effect on the international financial system of small countries that, for whatever reason, are not able to implement all of the onerous requirements of the FATF.

The FATF is the hand-maiden of the rich countries of the world, with a vested interest in the compliance of all other jurisdictions with onerous and costly rules that are arbitrarily made and that are enforced by measures inconsistent with international law, including countries such as the United States of America (US) extending the enforcement of its own laws into foreign countries.

The membership of FATF now consists of 34 countries, including China, Brazil, India and South Africa (CBISA) that it was convenient for the original members to let in given their new economic status. FATF membership is denied developing countries not considered ‘strategically important’.

The rules on matters such as tax competition, money laundering and terrorism financing were made before the CBISA nations joined, but even they have done little or nothing to alter the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach of the FATF and its sister grouping, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that also has 34 members. Significantly, the CBISA nations found membership of that body to be a step too far if they wished to maintain their ‘developing country’ credentials.

The OECD countries, particularly the US, have used the terrorist events of 9/11 to institute far-reaching measures on countries around the world. While these measures have been pursued in the name of combating laundering of drug-related money and financing of terrorism, there is little doubt that financial institutions in the US and in major financial centres such as Britain have been the principal beneficiaries of the enforcement of rules that push financial services in competing jurisdictions out of business.

In a new and serious development, from July 1 the US Foreign Accounts Tax Compliance Act (FACTA) will compel financial and non-financial entities in foreign jurisdictions, including in the Caribbean, to share information with the American Inland Revenue Service (IRS) on “accounts held by US persons or by foreign entities in which US persons hold substantial ownership interests”. If they fail to do so, the “IRS will cause these correspondent banks to withhold 30% of monies being transmitted to financial institutions outside of the US”. In other words, 30% of all transactions will be withheld whether they involve US persons or not.

Governments in the Caribbean have accepted FACTA and many of them are now adopting legislation to give legitimacy to it as they have done with the FATF rules on AML/CFT. Just as there was little collective action by Caribbean jurisdictions to negotiate compensations for the costs of implementing AML/CFT measures, there has been acquiescence in implementing FACTA even though compliance will add to the already heavy burden on governments and financial institutions.

Of course, every country should co-operate in combating serious crime, but not at a cost disproportionate to the risk they pose. The OECD and FATF countries in relation to the AML/CFT measures and the US in relation to FACTA should provide compensation for the high costs that the governments of small countries and their financial institutions face. Their offer of ‘technical assistance’ is grossly inadequate and, usually, means placing their own people into the machinery of other governments, but avoiding the financial resources needed.

An authoritative study by the Commonwealth Secretariat (Sharman and Mistry 2008) revealed that costs of ‘the regulatory regime have been rising much faster than any associated tax or fee revenue gain, or the overall growth” of the financial services sector. The Commonwealth study is also explicit
that Tax Information Exchange Agreements that are an integral part of the AML/CFT measures do not compensate small countries “for the expense they must go to in bolstering OECD countries’ tax revenues”.

Guyana’s political parties should adopt the AML/CFT legislation or the country will be blacklisted to its detriment by the FATF. That is the reality of coercive power. For the Guyanese to continue to fight each other is to play someone else’s game by someone else’s rules.

Small countries such as Guyana and the rest of the Caribbean cannot singly resist the bludgeoning of multilateral organisations like the OECD and FATF, nor can they individually challenge the US. But, they can together make a case for compensation – a case in which they could form alliances with countries, equally affected in other parts of the world, to take the issue as far as the General Assembly of the United Nations if necessary. Right now, the law of the jungle prevails and the mighty rules.

In Guyana the political parties are fighting over the content of AML/CFT legislation, but they are missing the woods for the trees. The real struggle is an international one – and that struggle should also be CFATF’s on behalf of all its member states.

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

No easy choices


The changing times have left the world in an interesting position as the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking was observed by the United Nations (UN) on Thursday.

In recent times, two US states have decriminalised or legalised the use of marijuana and a range of derivative products. The South American nation of Uruguay has also legalised the substance and even as CARICOM continues to debate its direction, Jamaica has moved ahead with relaxing legal restrictions on the use of this dug for personal use. Earlier this month, the Portia Simpson Administration announced that it would be amending the laws related to possession of small quantities of the substance for personal use, smoking in private places and the use of medical marijuana.

Many commentators maintain that it is important that the distinction be emphasised between decriminalisation and legalisation. The former does not declare the substance completely safe, but instead changes the type of punishment meted out to those found in breach of the law. Many see this as a pragmatic tactic in the ‘war on drugs’. It is felt that resources could be put to better use than hearing cases of possession in already backlogged courts and sending such offenders into an overcrowded prison system. It is suggested instead that fines or similar punitive measures be employed. Meanwhile, legalisation takes it a step further and removes the taboo from the use of the product altogether.

Surely this last step might be a difficult about-face to accept for many officials in the healthcare and security sectors. After decades of being on the frontlines of the battle, being told that the war is over can be a tough pill to swallow – especially if the message being sent is that one was fighting for a cause that has been made null and void. However, despite what some fear, legalisation does not mean a total free-for-all and that ganja will become as ubiquitous a flavour as chocolate and vanilla. There is still accommodation for restrictions and regulations to be applied, as is currently the case with alcohol, tobacco and other controlled substances.

Certainly, this is an issue in which there are no easy answers. Human manipulation of naturally occurring substances has resulted in the creation of addictive and harmful substances, some more so than others. Some, due to their history or perhaps the strength of the lobby of their proponents, have established a somewhat respectable status even though their harmful effects are well documented by the medical community. In the end, it may come down to a question of resources and whether it is more cost-effective and feasible to regulate the sale and use of the substance than to prohibit and police it.

Some might say that the writing is on the wall and perhaps the theme for this year’s International Day is indicative of this sentiment. The UN is this year urging persons to ‘make health your ‘new high’ in life, not drugs’. Rather than focus on the ongoing marijuana debate, the international body instead highlights the proliferation of new psychoactive substances (NPS) which it says “can be far more dangerous than traditional drugs”. One only has to recall the spate of bizarre and violent behaviour exhibited by those who consumed bath salts to understand their concern. The UN is therefore asking persons, especially young people, to experience life naturally and not under a chemical haze. But given the mixed signals that are constantly sent about the role of narcotic, pharmaceutical and other types of substances in recreational, medicinal or even everyday use, this is no mean feat.

PLAN LAUNCHED

Governor General, Dame Cecile La Grenade, unveils
the Five Pillars of the Marketing and National
Importing Board (MNIB) Strategic Plan.

By Linda Straker

A wider cross-section of the farming and agri-farming communities is now more knowledgeable about the Marketing and National Importing Board (MNIB) Strategic Plan, which will be their guiding principle document as they seek to become more profitable and at the same time develop the agriculture industry in Grenada.

Chairman of the Board, Samuel Andrew, said that June 17, 2014 marked a significant turning point in the history and life of the MNIB because it was the day that they started to implement a plan that will change the agricultural community.

“This plan as presently today, is a plan that will position the Board and put its decision in line with the national agenda, so that it can plan its role in national development. This plan will also increase the Board’s relevance to national and global development,” he said, while explaining that the bottom line will be profit maximisation.

The MNIB launched its six-year strategic plan at the Spice Basket, in a ceremony where the highlight was the unveiling of the Five Pillars of the plan by Governor General, Dame Cecile La Grenade. The plan itself was an internal project of the MNIB, two years in the making and was spearheaded by former General Manager, Fitzroy James.

The five pillars that will guide the work of the MNIB will be: Increase in product supply stream; Institutional strengthening; Viable and robust export sector; Development of the agro-processing industry; and Development of a strong meat industry.

With regards to expanding the plan, CEO Ruel Edwards said that in the area of export it is the hope that by 2020, the MNIB will have a strong overseas presence in the diaspora market and export 2.5 million pounds of produce per year.

The plan also provides for reaching a target of 25 per cent increase in exports using 2014 as its baseline and at the same time have a well-developed, value-added sector.

One of the new areas of focus will be the area of meat production and this is expected to be done in partnership with livestock farmers and organisations whose focus and membership is in the meat industry.

“We will be working to realise a 20 per cent reduction in fresh meat imports and at the same time export meats to other parts of the region,” Edwards told the farmers.

Critical to achieving the plan, in particular their desire to export to the USA market, is the need for the MNIB to have a safety system within its working environment. Edwards said that currently, no such system exists and it will be a priority.

“The intention is that by December 31st, 2015, the MNIB will have a safety system as this will give us the break to export our produce to the USA and other markets,” he said.

Major EU funding could benefit key areas for Caribbean states


FOR the first time, the European Union (EU) will be providing 1 billion euros in development aid to the region.

Word of this comes from Head of Delegation of the European Union to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Ambassador Mikael Barfod, who was delivering welcome remarks at the second bi-regional policy dialogue, ‘Sustainable Bi-regional Multi-stakeholder Policy Dialogue on Science and Technology, which was held at the UWI Cave Hill Campus last week Wednesday.

His comments came as he revealed that the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) programme is being finalised. “This support will be focused in three areas – regional integration, climate change and crime and security. These areas provide several prospects for the Science, Technology and Innovation Community, and align well with the research agenda for the region.”

Ambassador Barfod, in his address, observed some apparently counter-intuitive concepts in the region, which he noted could collectively effect a new paradigm.

Highlighting his observations over the past year and nine months in the region, he said, “Each country within the region contributes a significant portion of its annual budget on human resource development, but continues to suffer from human capacity constraints in several potential growth areas.

“Substantial sums are spent on higher education, including financing from the EU on development of community colleges across the region, but there is a poorly developed research culture, especially in science and technology.

“The private sector plays a critical role in the development to the economies of the region and in support of higher education, yet there appears to be a significant disconnect between scholarship and practice.”

Additionally, he noted that while institutions such as the EU have made available significant financing for research and development, research institutions appear challenged to access this financing.

It is against this backdrop that he suggested these apparent counterpoints converge with a single message. “Leaders in the region must identify sustainable, strategic, scalable solutions for translating investments in education and research into policy imperatives and innovative enterprises. Similarly, we as development partners must create flexible and easily accessible funding options that facilitate the transition from thought to enterprise.”

The head of the EU delegation opined that the outputs from EUCARINET programme between the EU and the Caribbean has provided an appropriate foundation on which this message may be actualised. “The formulation of the final policy brief and strategic plan for sustainability is an extremely useful product for establishing the research, development and co-operation going forward.”

He said that the EU’s seven-year Horizon 2020 programme will help to rationalise the trust in the sector over the next few years. (JH)

IICA and CTO to push agri-tourism


Grenada and other members of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation are expected to benefit from a four-year agreement signed between the organisation and one of the leading agriculture organisations in this region.

The Inter-American Institute for Co-operation on Agriculture (IICA) and the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) have signed an agreement aimed at strengthening ties between the two sectors and increasing the involvement of Caribbean producers in the region’s tourism industry.

According to the agreement, which was signed in New York during the recently concluded Caribbean Tourism Week in New York, the organi-sations will endeavour to strengthen the political and institutional frameworks of Caribbean agriculture and tourism in order to facilitate commercial and investment partnerships, and increase the sharing of information, success stories and good business practices.

The types of tourism in which agriculture and rural areas could play a bigger role are those related to the region’s agro-ecology, cuisine, culture and heritage, as well as activities involving rural communities and health and well-being.

The agreement said that the partners will promote capacity building in value chains, agricultural regions as tourist destinations as part of CTO advertising campaigns, and the preparation of studies to quantify the contributions that agriculture and tourism make to one another.

“Through joint work with the CTO, IICA can make a tangible contribution to efforts to create more opportunities for the development of rural areas and improvement of the living conditions of agricultural producers by working more closely with the tourism industry,” observed Ena Harvey, a specialist in agro-tourism and co-ordinator of IICA’s regional management and integration for the Caribbean.

“It is a win-win relationship. Our cuisine is one of our tourism’s most attractive and authentic products, and this partnership can enable visitors to have memorable experiences, increase the economic independence of producers and help reduce the food import bill in the Caribbean,” remarked Secretary General of the CTO, Hugh Riley.

The CTO, which numbers more than 30 countries and private organisations among its members, has its headquarters in Barbados and offices in New York and London. Its relationship with IICA began more than a decade ago.

Only last week, the Marketing and National Importing Board (MNIB) launched a six-year strategic plan with increasing the value chain as one of its priorities.

One of the outputs of the MNIB plan is to strengthen the role and linkage between tourism and agriculture, as both play and will continue to play a pivotal role in the development of the country. (LS)

Woman dies from blow to head and strangulation


By Linda Straker

Police in Grenada have disclosed that an autopsy conducted on Nixiann Downes-Clarke – the young woman that was found inside a suitcase in a shallow grave in Mt. Mortiz last Friday – revealed that she died as a result of blunt force trauma to the head and asphyxiation by strangulation.

A statement from the Royal Grenada Police Force said that an autopsy was conducted on Sunday – approximately 48 hours after police from the Criminal Investigation Department were believed to have acted on a confession statement from her husband, Alexander Clarke, that he had killed and buried her in the location. Both Clarke and an unnamed teenaged female were detained and assisting police with the investi-gation of the disappearance of Nixiann after she failed to meet her mother, Linda Downes, last week Tuesday.

Clarke made his first appearance in court on Monday and his lawyer, Anselm Clouden, is claiming that police beat his client in the head and forced a confession out of him.
The shallow grave where the body
of Nixiann Downes-Clarke was found.
“There are certain protective mechanisms to ensure that an accused person has a fair trial and we must follow it to the letter,” he said, while angry onlookers questioned his decision to take up the matter.

Claiming he personally has no knowledge about the heinous crime, which has now left a two-year-old without a mother and a mother without a daughter, Clouden said that under the law his client must be presumed innocent until proven otherwise by a court of law. When asked by the media if his focus is on the claim that Clarke his alleging he was beaten and not on the fact that a body was found, he replied: “I have no knowledge of this... I know nothing about any gruesome murder.”

Clarke was remanded to prison and will return to court on July 10 where the result of his medical examination is expected to be disclosed before the court. Despite Clouden’s application that he sees a doctor forthwith, under the law once any person is sent to prison to serve a sentence or await a trial, a medical doctor must thoroughly examine that person and produce a report for the records.

As Clouden spoke about the innocence of his client, the mother of Nixiann was crying and screaming, saying her first child and first daughter did not deserve to die in such an inhumane way. She claimed that the husband, who according to police is a British national, was very abusive to her daughter and deprived her from having a relationship with her family.

Dormant registered companies’ names to be taken off list


A number of companies, which the Registrar of Companies believes are no longer carrying on business in Grenada, are to be taken off the Companies Registration list if the relevant information is not provided to prove that these companies are indeed conducting business in the island.

According to the June 13th Gazette, the companies are: Beach Side Properties Ltd., which was registered in 1997; Calivigny Point Development Company Ltd., which was registered in 1971; Raymond Lewis Windball Cricket Competition Inc., which was registered in 2014; Lezah and Company Ltd., which was registered in 2007; and Raindancer Enterprises Ltd., which was registered in 2009.

The notice, which is dated June 10, 2014 and signed by the Registrar of Companies Annette Henry, said that pursuant to Section 483(3) of the Companies Act, Cap 58A, the companies will be taken off the list three months after the first notice unless cause is shown to the contrary.

A representative from the Corporate Affairs & Intellectual Property Office (CAIPO) said that once the names are taken off, anyone can use the names to register a business. It means that the names will be legally available and anyone can use them in accordance with the Companies Act, the representative said. (LS)

High Courts operating from former LIME building on the Carenage


BY the time the new law year starts in September 2014, all of Grenada’s High Courts will be housed in the former LIME building on the Carenage overlooking the St. George’s Harbour.

Works Minister, Gregory Bowen, said last week Tuesday that the use of the building will be a phased process, starting with the No.3 Court, followed by the No.2 and the last will be the No.1.

The No.3 Court moved into the building recently, following weeks of ren-ovations. Government has had to seek new buildings for the courts because the existing buildings where they are located are in very deplorable condition, making them unfit for human activities.

Bowen said that although the Government is presently using the former LIME building through a long-term lease, the intention is to purchase the building to make sure that all the High Courts are operating within that one building.

A few weeks ago, a number of cases were adjourned in the No.3 High Court without dates for continuation because there was no adequate building to house its operations. However, that has since been rectified because the former LIME building has already begun housing the court.

The High Courts were formerly housed downstairs of the York House or the Parliament building, which was destroyed by Hurricane Ivan in 2004. This year will make it ten years since the hurricane and neither the Courts nor the Parliament are yet to get a permanent home. The Trade Centre has become the temporary home of Parliament.

Before relocating to the Carenage, the No.3 High Court was housed in the Hubbards building at the corner of Scott and Young Streets. (LS)

EUCARINET in focus – Discussion held on strategies to advance Caribbean science


APPROXIMATELY 60 participants from across the Caribbean and Europe participated in the Sustainable Bi-regional Multi-stakeholder Policy Dialogue on Science and Technology at the 3W’s Oval on Wednesday.

Hosted by the Office of Research at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI), this marked the final meeting of EUCARINET, a four-year project funded by the European Commission. The main goal is to strengthen bi-regional sustainable dialogue on Science and Technology (S&T) between Europe and the Caribbean.

Past Dean of the Faculty of Science and
Technology, Dr. Sean Carrington.
A section of the participants of the Second Sustainable
Bi-regional Multi-stakeholder Policy Dialogue on Science
and Technology, held at the Cave Hill campus on Wednesday.
The meeting addressed another major objective of EUCARINET – to promote sustainable multi-stakeholder policy dialogue on Science & Technology between the EU and the Caribbean.

During the morning session, participants, including researchers, policymakers and representatives of the private sector, saw an overview of EUCARINET project outputs, and then went on to discuss and refine strategies and policies that can strengthen collaboration in Caribbean Science, Technology and Innovation, both within the region and within Europe.

Past Dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology, Dr. Sean Carrington, explained the importance of this project, which he said is designed to help the Caribbean collaborate more on science, technology and innovation and also to collaborate more with Europe.

“Because in the various research programmes of the EU, the Caribbean did not have many applications for projects. The irony is that when we did apply, we did very well, but we weren’t putting in enough applications, so this is a project to really build links in the Caribbean.”

He noted that there are 11 partners, and as one of the six partners in the Caribbean, the UWI was tasked to map what was happening in the region, “To see what kind of areas people were working in, high profile areas that everyone was noticing... also noticing what science policies, which countries had a science and technology strategic plan, innovating and creating a network...”

Additionally, he noted that a database of research organisations and a database for researchers in the Caribbean were created, which he described as a starting point.

“We are trying to see how we could get together and to more or less advance Caribbean science. It is a challenge, because you have the English-speaking Caribbean in CARICOM; French territories, part of France; Dutch territories – Netherlands; and then we have independent countries like the Dominican Republic and Cuba, and trying to find a way that we could have a common platform to go forward and advance Caribbean science, that is what we have been doing over the past two days,” he said.

The participants also learned more about the opportunities to be derived from the European Union’s new seven-year Research and Innovation programme – Horizon 2020.

By coupling research and innovation, Horizon 2020 will drive European economic growth and create jobs, with its emphasis on excellent science, industrial leadership and tackling societal challenges. (JH)

UWI lifts profile – offering students more opportunities internationally

Dr. Anthony Fisher, Director of External
Relations at the Cave Hill Campus.

 The University of the West Indies is partnering with the Coimbra Group of Brazilian Universities (CGBU).

UWI’s signature of a Co-operation Agreement with CGBU’s 65 member universities, vastly expands the number of study abroad partners for the UWI, where students can get Portuguese language immersion and knowledge of Brazilian culture, while they study in their substantive areas.

“What this agreement does between the Coimbra Group and the University of the West Indies is significantly lifting our international profile,” noted Dr. Anthony Fisher, Director of External Relations at the Cave Hill Campus.

“While we have done bi-lateral agreements with individual and very good Brazilian Universities, the Coimbra Group has within it 65 universities from which we can do research partnerships; we can also take advantage of specific full degree programmes, as well as mobility programmes,” he explained.

Dr. Fisher further pointed out that the University is responding to a regional need – a need in terms of how to innovate, and compete globally.

“We traditionally looked at North America, but we cannot ignore Brazil,” he stressed.

“One of the priorities of this campus, and indeed the University, is internationalism... because it is the only way students who grow up on islands like this can compete, and with Brazil being the sixth largest economy in the world, we cannot ignore Brazil. Our governments are not ignoring Brazil – Brazil is the
next frontier for the Caribbean,” he stressed.

From left: President of CGBU, Prof. Maria Lucia V. Cavalli
Neder; Prof. Rossana De Souza E Silva, Executive Secretary
of the CGBU; and Prof. Paulo Teixeira De Sousa, Jr., Director
of the Office of International, Relations, University of Mato
Grosso, during a visit to the Cave Hill campus.
Exchange opportunities

Recently, Prof. Maria Neder, President of the CGBU; Prof. Rossana E Silva, Executive Secretary of the CGBU; and Prof. Paulo De Sousa, Director of the Office of International Relations, University of Mato Grasso, paid a visit to the Cave Hill Campus. During the visit, presentations were made to the Brazilian delegation in the areas of English as a secondary language at Cave Hill, research into Barbadian immigrants to Brazil, CERMES collaboration and desirable partnerships in Brazil, and bio-fuels research at Cave Hill.

One of the many opportunities for UWI students, revealed by Prof. De Sousa, is in terms of the mobility of Caribbean students wishing to go to Brazil.

He pointed out that under the OAS Scholarship Programme, Caribbean students are not required to be fluent in Portuguese, since the programme includes a component of language training in Brazil. (TL)

CXC official: STEM Challenge vital, exciting


Caribbean students are being encouraged to pursue STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects – not only as avenues to lucrative careers, but as a means of developing the region economically.

These words of encouragement came from the Assistant Registrar of  the Business Development Unit of the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC), Michelle Stephens.

Asserting that these areas are fundamental to the region’s development, she said, “The harnessing of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics are vital to the growth and rebalancing of our Caribbean economies.

“They underpin our abilities to diversify and advance industries and to innovate competitive products.”

However, though adding that “students who pursue these subjects are able to command high paying jobs,” she cautioned, “[…] but we want these subjects, not to be viewed singularly as a gateway to high income, but rather as vehicles to critical thinking, problem-solving and collaborative working”.

Therefore, she lauded Sagicor for introducing the Sagicor Visionaries Challenge, and extended her gratitude to the Caribbean Science Foundation for “championing STEM as fun, functional and facilitating innovation”.

Stephens insisted that the initiative is also helping to create a paradigm shift in the teaching of these subjects.

Speaking to science teachers from the island’s secondary schools at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre in Barbados on Friday, at the launch of the 2014 edition of the Challenge, she added, “CXC therefore sees this Sagicor Visionaries Challenge as a catalyst in shifting the approach to teaching and learning, from solely textbook-based, to experiential, relevant and current to the Caribbean circumstances.”

Having noted that North Gate College in Trinidad won the top prize recently in the Cubes In Space global contest, she affirmed that “potential for global competitiveness, in the field of STEM, lives right here in the Caribbean”.

She added, “This STEM Challenge will nurture that potential by using the CXC syllabus in a creative and exciting way, that allows both teachers and students to see STEM as living subjects, that when married with curious and open minds, possess indigenous solutions.”

Additionally, she informed teachers that under the Challenge, students sitting the sciences at the CXC level will be able to use their projects as School Based Assessments (SBAs), “once they satisfy the requirements”.

Training towards regional growth


THE Canadian Government is putting its money behind a programme, which it believes will see the Caribbean region grow economically.

On Monday at Courtyard Marriott in Barbados, Senior Technical Advisor at the CARICOM Education for Employment Programme and at Colleges and Institutes Canada, Linda Cooke, confirmed that Canada is working with the region to ensure economic development.
Senior Technical Advisor at the CARICOM Education for
Employment Programme (C-EFE) and at Colleges and Institutes
Canada, Linda Cooke, says that through the C-EFE an
increase in regional economic development is the target.

She said, “The theory is, that one of the issues in many islands and starting now in Barbados is that there is a lot of unemployment; there is a lot of youth unemployment. In the meantime, skilled workers are being brought in as ex-pats from elsewhere in the world, so there are people without jobs, and jobs without people.

“And if we could match the kinds of training programmes and be more agile about changing what is delivered at some of the technical institutes, Caribbean persons could have those jobs and they would have more economic prosperity, and employers could be attracted to the region as well for investments, because they would know there would be a skill set here to help them with manufacturing or services or whatever the field might be.”

Individuals at the first workshop on Monday at Courtyard
Marriott in Barbados participated in a icebreaker prior to
discussing their challenges, resources and
island’s or province’s best practices.
Therefore, she said that Monday was the first day of a week-long series of activities, with the day’s workshop focusing on 16 partnerships from 12 countries in the Caribbean, between Canadian and Caribbean colleges and institutes “to develop new programmes to meet the skills shortage needs in the Caribbean countries”.

Affirming Canada’s commitment to the cause, she stated, “The CARICOM Education for Employment Programme overall is a CA$20 million Canadian product [funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, Canada]. We’re entering Year Four, so we have dispersed a proportionate amount of that up to this time. …And each of these institutional partnerships, like the one with the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic (SJPP), has a value of CA$450 000.”

Focusing on logistics, agriculture, automotive, electronics and cosmetology at the higher levels, to name a few areas identified as ways to bring about growth, Cooke reiterated that the programming is tailored to the countries’ needs.

She explained, “Here in Barbados, we’re working with SJPP to develop training for renewable energy technicians. As you would be aware, Barbados’ government has identified renewable energy as one of the major initiatives going forward to reduce the electrical bill, and to make that happen, you’re going to need technicians who can calibrate, repair solar panels, wind generators and so on.”

Meanwhile, she continued, “…In some of the other countries we’re working with, we’re developing programmes in food processing to take better advantage of some of the crops that are grown and reduce the food import bills. We are working in heavy equipment maintenance in a programme in Guyana, to help with the shortages in the mining industry. In some of the other countries, we are working on things like Early Childhood Development programmes, to increase the capacity of the Early Childhood Care programmes to prepare young persons for future skills development.” (KG)

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Limacol CPL 2014 set to amaze


The countdown is on to the most electrifying cricketing event in the Caribbean and from the looks of things, all systems are go. The Limacol Caribbean Premier League is set to take the region by storm once again after making a smashing debut last year.

Getting started on July 11, the tournament will be seeing some exciting changes while at the same time staying true to the format that the people of the Caribbean have come to know and love after only one year. In a telephone interview with CPL Chief Executive Officer Damien O’Donohoe and Chief Operations Officer Pete Russell, The Grenada Advocate was informed that last year was a success.

“CPL last year was fantastic. We had full stadiums and we sold over 94% of the seats so in terms of an experience, both cricketing and entertainment wise, it was something that I think that the Caribbean hadn’t seen for a very long time. We were delighted with it,” Russell said.

With the major changes coming in the form of an increase in games from 24 to 30, there is also an increase in the number of venues with eight as opposed to six in a bid to reach a wider cross-section of the region. Russell went on to say that they were hoping for much of the same in terms of full houses, exciting cricket and the usual entertainment and added that one of the latest developments included American rapper, Rick Ross, being announced to be on the cards in St. Kitts. Another event expected to create quite a stir is the Ian Botham and Brian Lara charity game in St. Kitts, which will see the likes of Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Imran Khan dusting off their skills to the delight of the fans.

The franchises are pretty much staying the same and Russell stated that another big-bill star will be joining the ranks this year. “We have a high-quality lineup for all of the teams. We’ve got the usual West Indies stars and they’ll be lining up alongside a number of international legends as well, such as Kevin Pietersen who is coming to play for the Zouks this year. We are very excited with both the quality of teams and the number of international teams that are being represented.”

O’Donohoe chimed in to say that of the challenges faced this year, the logistics of moving around between the venue countries proved to be the most problematic. He added however, that the organising committee have been hard at it since September and their relationship with LIAT was solid and have been assured that priority is given, flights are on schedule and bags arrive.

“The biggest challenge for us is the fact that, like any other event, there are different islands in which to stage the island, so logistically it can be a real challenge getting around the Caribbean. With any other major event you’re usually in one country in six or seven different locations so to transport everything is probably or biggest challenge in terms of delivering the event,” he said.

The UK, the Caribbean and a changing relationship


Every two years the British and the Caribbean governments meet with the objective of moving forward a relationship that has become much changed.

This time it is the UK’s turn to host the event at Lancaster House in London on June 16 and 17. This is the grand UK government facility where in the 1960s and 1970s the Caribbean negotiated the constitutions that brought independence to almost every Anglophone Caribbean nation.

Attending what will be the Eighth UK-Caribbean Forum, will be almost all Caribbean Foreign Ministers, Britain’s Foreign Secretary, plus other ministers and assorted officials.

In contrast to previous meetings – the last one was in Grenada – this will have a significantly lower profile, with no sessions open to a wider audience, no set piece opening or closing session, and no participation by the UK’s European or North American partners.

Despite this, the event remains of significance as its overall outcome and any follow up will demonstrate the nature and future trajectory of the UK-Caribbean relationship.

Importantly, at least as far as the UK is concerned, the event takes place with Cariforum, so includes the Dominican Republic which has become a partner of increasing economic and regional security significance to Britain.

Although the event will involve difficult exchanges on aspects of the political relationship, there will also be discussions on alternative approaches to helping resolve the region’s energy problems, and a new and welcome focus on education and exploring ways in which the UK might be able to play a role in supporting the region prepare its young people and future leaders for a world in which new skills and thinking are required.

There is also a business forum that will encourage UK investors and enterprises to take a greater interest in the region, and a meeting with British Parliamentarians with an interest in the Caribbean region. In addition there is a collateral event, also at Lancaster House, that will bring together invited members of the Caribbean Diaspora to debate with British politicians and foreign ministers issues of concern with the objective of greater community involvement in developing UK thinking about the Caribbean.

From a British perspective, the overarching interest is for the Forum to identify ways in which the relationship might be adapted to respond to its changing objectives and economic limitations at a time when the Caribbean region has new partners that are prepared to support infrastructural development, investment, and provide new forms of development assistance.


Its hope is that the Forum will result in greater co-ordination and identify how it might better support the region’s needs in relation to energy, education, private sector led growth and regional security, while helping identify the skills needed to enable the region to increase its capacity and competitiveness; all within a partnership that emphasises core interests and shared values.

For the Caribbean the issues are more specific, challenging and difficult. They revolve around reparations, the recent graduation of much of the Caribbean out of development assistance, the problems associated with vulnerability and smallness, and are about visas and migration.

As with so many events involving the Caribbean’s traditional interlocutors and trade partners the meeting would therefore seem to start with a mismatch between aspiration and reality.

Although the world’s sixth largest economy, Britain’s role on the world stage is diminishing and as a consequence its priorities have changed. It still sees the Caribbean relationship as special, but in future as increasingly being soft power based; there are important exceptions, largely relating to security, investment and some geo-strategic concerns. In contrast much of the Caribbean still seems to see the relationship as delivering in one or another way material forms of support.

The consequence is that unless this divide can be bridged and there is a willingness to overcome bureaucratic inertia on the Caribbean side, the relationship is likely to suffer continuing disappointments for both, reinforce the view that the other is not delivering, and result in those bilateral relationships that work taking precedence.

The litmus test will be whether this event has a practical outcome that looks forward with enthusiasm, and if what is agreed on paper is ever followed up on, or delivered.

One aspect that neither side seems to have fully understood is that the future of a more soft power oriented relationship will be that, to a significant extent, this will have to be driven by people to people contact, whether though business and investment on a two way basis; those in Britain’s increasingly middle class and professional Caribbean community whose role in moving policy has largely been ignored; via philanthropy; and through financially stable academic, NGO and business institutions able to deliver programmes that cement non-government ties and hold the collective memory about the relationship. All of this has a cost that seems less and less likely to be met.

One consequence of diminishing resources for civil society is a significant imbalance between the UK’s substantial representation in the region and Britain’s ability to successfully deliver outreach in the UK. Put another way the UK’s image in the region exceeds its capabilities and may disappoint despite its many excellent and engaged younger high Commissioners and Ambassadors.

Today Britain’s focus is on thematic approach to foreign policy, on major markets, on global security and on securing the transatlantic relationship. Its politicians are driven by the twenty four hour rolling news agenda and complex domestic political issues in ways that at times seem to give precedence to perception and marginalise many of the difficult issues that touch small states.

For its part the Caribbean has failed to weave its requirements into a whole that places the region in a new contextual framework, as a distinct grouping of states with a clear and common agenda that can be linked with the global interests of traditional partners and their acceptance of multi-polarity.

Let us hope that the UK Caribbean Forum helps develop new thinking and starts to define where the region or individual nations might be twenty years from now and enables the UK to reset and redefine its role within this context.

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

Stop cursing CARICOM as darkness; it is a light not yet fully turned-on


Dr. Franklin Johnston, a strategist, project manager and advisor to the Jamaica Minister of Education, wrote a column in the Jamaica Observer of May 30 in which he basically contended that the Caribbean Common Market and Community (CARICOM) and the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) are the constructs of “Anglophone black people” and not in the interest of Jamaica.

Rooting his contentions in anti-colonialist sentiment, he stated without evidence that CSME is a “clever fiction inspired by the Brits, aided by Cabinets, and sustained by well-paid, unaccountable regional civil servants”. He sets-up both CARICOM and CSME as hostile to the economic well-being of Jamaica. Further, he claims that “CSME zealots” all come to live in Jamaica; “we (Jamaica) are the big name brand”; “CSME disrespects us” (Jamaicans); and “we (Jamaicans) are small with a big brand and balls to match and need no union to prosper, but CSME controls us by making the arcane and distant familiar; “the phrase English-speaking Caribbean means zilch as CSME does not work”; and “Jamaica is the largest nation in CSME, so we are its backbone – finance, market, innovation, brand value, yet we are the poorest member”.

Dr. Franklin is a welcome voice to the discussion of CARICOM and CSME – the exchange of views is imperative as all sections of the Caribbean Community work to improve and enhance the benefits of CARICOM for the people of all member-states. But, welcome should not be misconstrued as acceptance of the legitimacy of the arguments. It is regrettable, for instance, that among the “Anglophone black people” who are accused of keeping “a colonial legacy alive” by constructing CARICOM and CSME would be radical Caribbean thinkers and leaders such as Michael Manley, P J Patterson, Norman Girvan, Louise Bennett, Arthur Lewis, Vaughan Lewis, William Demas, Eric Williams, Errol Barrow, Owen Arthur, C Y Thomas, Havelock Brewster, Shridath Ramphal, Alister McIntyre, T A Marryshaw and Ralph Gonsalves. The resistance of all these men, who were at the centre of the creation of CARICOM and CSME, to colonialism in all its forms, is well-known. It is a terrible slur to denigrate their magnificent efforts on behalf of the entire Caribbean. It has to be assumed that ardour for his argument temporarily blinded Dr Franklin to veracity.

As for CARICOM and CSME being “clever fictions inspired by the Brits”, Dr. Franklin denies a long history of agitation and advocacy for unity in the Caribbean by Caribbean people stretching back to the 1930s when their basic objective was to be rid of the British in an arrangement of independence by a unified Caribbean. While, after the 1961 referendum in Jamaica, the West Indian goal of joint independence was shattered, the reality that none of the countries could survive alone remained and inspired the creation of CARICOM and CSME by Caribbean development economists, political scientists and historians. While Britain regards greater economic integration of the Caribbean as important to the well-being of the people of the region, it is not alone in this view – the United States, Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil, Russia, India and China also hold this view based on the small size of the economies of the region and the benefits that could flow from integrated production and joint financial strategies and negotiations.

It is most unfortunate that Dr. Franklin, who advises the Jamaica Minister of Education, attempts to create a divide between Jamaicans and the people of other Caribbean countries by promulgating a false doctrine of Jamaican superiority as reflected in his remarks: “we (Jamaica) are the big name brand”; “CSME disrespects us” (Jamaicans); and “we (Jamaicans) are small with a big brand and balls to match and need no union to prosper, but CSME controls us by making the arcane and distant familiar.

The people of other Caribbean countries greatly admire the accomplishments of Jamaican musicians, athletes and thinkers. Indeed, when Jamaicans compete in international spheres in all endeavours, Caribbean people root for them as one of their own. But, Dr Franklin should recall that little St. Lucia with a population ten times smaller than Jamaica’s has produced two of the Caribbean’s three Nobel Prize winners in Arthur Lewis and Derek Walcott – the other being V S Naipaul of Trinidad and Tobago; Brian Lara of Trinidad and Tobago (with a population half that of Jamaica’s), remains the cricketer with the highest number of runs in Test cricket; and the leadership roles played in the international community by persons such as Guyana’s Shridath Ramphal and Grenada’s Alister McIntyre are cause for pride by Caribbean people as a whole.

Dr. Franklin also asserts that “CSME zealots” all come to live in Jamaica”. Quite what he means by this statement is not clear, but if he is stating that Caribbean persons are migrating to Jamaica, the facts do not support him. While there are nationals of CARICOM countries who work in Jamaica under the skilled nationals certification programme, the number is minuscule in comparison with the number of Jamaicans who have migrated to countries such as Antigua and Barbuda. Further, in contradiction to the inference that Jamaicans play little role in Caribbean integration, the heads of several important Caribbean institutions are Jamaicans committed to the regional ideal. These institutions include the Caribbean Development Bank, the Caribbean Export Development Agency, the Caribbean Development Fund and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency.

As for the trade relations of Jamaica in CARICOM, while the unfavourable balance of trade surplus with one country – Trinidad and Tobago – is often cited as detrimental to Jamaica, the largest portion of the cost of Jamaica’s imports is oil and gas which Jamaica needs in any event and would have to purchase elsewhere. Jamaica enjoyed a large trade surplus with 7 of the 13 CSME countries in 2012. And, while Jamaica should be doing better in the export of goods and services, it is not because CSME does not provide the opening; it is because the private sector there has not taken sufficient advantage of the opportunities, including integrating its production with resources from other CARICOM countries. Further, Jamaica is the largest importer of CARICOM products because it has the largest population at 2.7 million people – twice the size of Trinidad and Tobago, and larger than Guyana, Belize, Barbados and seven countries of the Eastern Caribbean. And, contrary to Dr Franklin’s claim, Jamaica is not the poorest country in CARICOM in per capita income, and it is one of the richest in natural resources.

Little is achieved by blindly cursing CARICOM for any of the woes that Jamaica faces – some of them could have been alleviated by active participation in making CARICOM and the CSME work more effectively; a fault which Jamaica shares with all CARICOM countries.

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

Watching and waiting


AS the lone superpower, which along with its allies has the responsibility to maintain global peace, the United States has its hands full with many hot spots demanding urgent attention. The Ukraine crisis is getting out of hand with reports of an ongoing assault on the Government in that European country. In the South China sea tensions are mounting over territorial claims between China, Japan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and a few others. To add fuel to fire, parts of Iraq are now under the control of militants said to be linked to Al Qaeda. The civil war in Syria is still raging and the Iranian issue over sanctions relating to that country’s supposedly nuclear programme, is still very much in the limelight.

Many have for years looked to the United States as something of a global policeman although of late policymakers in that country believed that should no longer be the case; instead they have been pushing for an isolationist foreign policy. To stay out of these hotspots would send a signal that the United States is becoming weak, although this does not hold water since the Americans have until recently been involved in two lengthy wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Those two were enough to sap any nation especially when it is considered the loss of personnel and concerns raised by nationals for their country to stop the wars and to bring the troops home. Indeed, that was a campaign plank for President Barack Obama. It can also be viewed from the angle that perhaps the emergence of the new hot spots while there may be other reasons for them to surface, could have something to do with a war wary US and the attitudes of its nationals towards conflict. Add to that the view that the United States’ economy is gradually settling down to lasting economic growth and stability, and it would be seen that nothing will be done to abort whatever gains have already been secured from the growing economy. Wars are costly and while most commentators will suggest that wars usually redound to the benefit of the American economy, that view seems not to be a consideration at this time.

But these are developments that the United States cannot ignore. President Obama has said repeatedly that American troops will not be stationed in the Ukraine. However, the show of force by way of sending Aircraft carriers and destroyers to Europe and having American soldiers participate in military exercises on the continent, seemed not to be enough.

Certainly and with its allies in Western Europe, the US has been using sanctions to “punish” Russia for its reported involvement in the Ukraine. At this point they seemed not to be having the desired impact in deterring the actions of Russia if it is accepted that the latter country is directly stoking the flames of unrest in the Ukraine. If they are, the Russian Government seems not to care too much about them.

As for the instability in the South China Sea, this calls for diplomacy rather than military involvement even though some US military presence remains in proximity. Recent reports have indicated that an American air assault on the positions being held by militants in Iraq is not far away. As these situations unfold, those of us with an interest in seeing positive outcomes to them will continue to follow the events.

TEN HONOURED


By Linda Straker

TEN Grenadians, one of whom has contributed significantly in Canada, are among the more than 11 000 Commonwealth nationals who were recognised by Queen Elizabeth II in her 2014 Birthday Honours List.

The highest award to a Grenadian national was Commander of the Order of the British Empire and it went to Jean Augustine for her services to Education and Politics. She currently resides in Canada where she has made her contributions. She also served in its Parliament.

Russel Fielden and Ann Hopkin were appointed as Officer of the Order of the British Empire. Fielden
is recognised for his con-tribution towards the Tourism Industry and Hopkin for services to Nursing.

“I am very surprised, but that is great,” said Fielden, who learnt about the appointment through his sister in London. “She just called to tell me and now you are telling, I had no idea! I don’t even know who nominated me,” he said.

A British national, Fielden first visited Grenada in 1981, but officially began working in the Tourism sector in 1985 when he was appointed as the General Manager of the Secret Harbour.

He made his contribution to the yachting sector continuously with different companies until he and his wife purchased the True Blue Bay Inn in 1998 and turned it into one of Grenada’s top hotels.

The Member of the Order of the British Empire was awarded to Jean Griffith for services to the Community and the Sickle Cell Association; Vincent Morain for his services to Education and Community Development; and Francis Redhead for his contribution towards Culture.

British Empire Medals were awarded to Maureen Charles for her services to the Community and the Dorothy Hopkin Centre; Wilfred Harris for Community Service; Peggy Nesfield for Community Service; and Christopher Peterkin for his service in the Public Service.

Stakeholders in fishing industry more knowledgeable about policies

James Nicholas, President of the
Southern Fishermen Association.

A number of persons in the fishing industry from five fishing organisations are more knowledgeable about aspects of the industry, having recently participated in a workshop which provided them with a better understanding about the national, regional and international processes for developing and implementing fisheries and related policies.

This is as a result of a recent national fisherfolk workshop undertaken by the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI). During the workshop, participants carried out a ‘Problem Tree’ analysis, which identified challenges to fisherfolk organisations and fisherfolk in areas such as the cost of fishing operations, market intelligence, development of fisherfolk organisations, fisheries policy, governance and management, and social security for fisherfolk.

Then they determined the likely solutions, including the capacities and resources required to address these challenges. They recognised the need to form a national fisherfolk organisation to advocate for changes in the national and regional policy, institutional and planning arrangements that would better address their issues. As a result, they set up an interim committee comprising representatives of the various fisherfolk organisations to promote the formation of a national fisherfolk organisation.

In his evaluation of the two-day workshop, James Nicholas, President of the Southern Fishermen Association, said: “The main objectives were met. The use of the ‘Problem Tree’ was very interesting and informative as it allowed us to express our issues in this industry, and pointed to the need for a national fisherfolk organisation. We see this as the way forward.”

The workshop was co-facilitated by Toby Francis Calliste, mentor; and Terrence Phillips, Senior Technical Officer, CANARI. Supporting the engagement of fisherfolk is especially critical now, as there are a number of international, regional and national policies being developed and implemented that will impact on their livelihoods.

The Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Organisations (CNFO), in consultation with its membership, represented the region’s fisherfolk at the recently concluded negotiations and approval of the International Guidelines on Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries, which were co-ordinated
by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). At the regional level, they are seeking to input into the operationalisation of the Caribbean Community Common Fisheries Policy and the Castries (St. Lucia) Declaration on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing.

The workshop was convened under the over 1 million Euro European Union-funded project, “Enhancing Food Security from the Fisheries Sector in the Caribbean: Building the Capacity of Regional and National fisherfolk organisation networks to participate in fisheries governance and management”, which is targeting fisherfolk organisations in the countries of Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Belize, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and Turks and Caicos.

It is being implemented by the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI), working in partnership with the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies of the University of the West Indies (UWI-CERMES), Panos Caribbean, Caribbean Network of Fisherfolk Associations (CNFO) and the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CFRM). (LS)

Grenada continues to remain free of Chikungunya


Chief Medical Officer, Dr. George Mitchell, says that Grenada is yet to record any case of the Chikungunya disease, which is transmitted through the aedes aegypti mosquito.

“Neither private or public doctors have come across cases, but what we did was to conduct the Chikungunya test on suspected cases of dengue fever. After the test, we have had positive results for dengue fever, but none of the test came back as positive for Chikungunya,” he said.

“So right now I can say that Grenada medical records have no suspected or confirmed cases of the Chikungunya,” he added.

Recent reports say that there are presently more than 130 941 suspected cases and 4 486 laboratory confirmed of chikungunya positive cases in 17 Caribbean territories, including the French Caribbean territories.

“However, in the case of Grenada, we are still free of it and remaining free is a partnership involving the general public because the way it’s transmitted. The public did to make it impossible for the mosquito to breathe and that is why we want householders to continuously keep the surroundings clean,” said Dr. Mitchell.

The rainy season, according to Dr. Mitchell, requires that the public become more vigilant so as to ensure that breeding grounds are not created for mosquitoes.

“The public, therefore, needs to clean up and remove all waste that can assist in the breeding
of mosquitoes,” he said. (LS)

First step to reporting on UNCCD completed


By Linda Straker

BOTH Government and non-governmental environmental stakeholders last week Thursday concluded the first step of preparing Grenada’s fifth National Report as required by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and the island’s alignment to the global strategy to implement the articles of that convention, which were a direct recommendation of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit.

The aim of the Convention is to mitigate the effects of drought through National Action Programmes that incorporate long-term strategies supported by international co-operation and partnership arrangement. It is the sole legally-binding international agreement linking environment and development to sustainable land management.

One of the participants making a
contribution at the UNCCD workshop.
It’s against this background that Grenada was able to secure funding for the 2009 to 2012 Sustainable Land Management project and in 2012, implement a Land Degradation Assessment project to determine the extent, severity and impact of land degradation.

Merina Jessamy, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, explained that although Grenada ratified the convention in 1997 and established a national co-ordinating body, it was not until 2005 that a National Action Plan (NAP) was developed to guide the implementation of the convention. Since then, Grenada has completed its national reports on the convention.

“You might note that the implementation is challenged by some lapses and we will try to be more consistent, although the factors causing the lapses are not always in our control,” said Jessamy, who explained that the Convention remains important to Grenada.

A few of the participants at the workshop.
“As a Ministry, we cannot close our eyes for the challenge of land degradation because it threatens food security, livelihoods and biodiversity,” she said, while delivering the feature address at the opening ceremony of a three-day workshop.

In 2007, ten years after the convention was ratified and two years after Grenada created its own NAP, the UNCCD developed a ten-point strategy as a guide for implementing the convention. The three-day workshop at the National Stadium was not only aimed at reviewing the fifth national draft report, but also to develop the structure and content of the National Communications Strategy on the NAP, review the UNCCD National Action Plan and undertake a NAP Alignment exercise. The exercise was funded by the Global Environmental Facility.

CDB to engage more directly with private sector


THE Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has been exploring new and different avenues to reach the private sector in borrowing member countries (BMCs).

In fact, Dr. Warren Smith, President of the CDB, recently told the 44th annual meeting of the Board of Governors that the CDB is in the process of revising its private sector policy and strategy to support new initiatives in private sector development and operations.

“Having strengthened its risk management framework, CDB now sees an opportunity to engage more directly with the private sector by working with other institutions, like the International Finance Corporation, in order to expand its private sector portfolio.”

He noted that interest in public-private partnerships (PPPs) as a mechanism to fund social and economic infrastructure projects has been growing.

“Early experiences have been mixed; and costly mistakes have been made,” he pointed out.

“CDB will continue to strengthen its internal capacity for private sector financing, as well as capacity within the BMCs to foster successful PPP ventures in the future,” he said.

The CDB president also acknowledged that many Governors during the meeting commended the Bank for securing the upgrade of the outlook on its credit rating from ‘negative’ to ‘stable’.

“This achievement was the result of the comprehensive team effort deployed by CDB’s staff to provide credible responses to the queries of the rating agency concerning the key risk issues, both within CDB and BMCs. Of special note is that the improvement in the outlook was accomplished, despite several of the Bank’s BMCs being downgraded during the same period.

“Also, many Governors commended the Bank for the significant progress made in improving its risk management framework, and acknowledged its role in the removal of the negative outlook on the credit rating.

“Going forward, we will continue to manage carefully the delicate balance between our development mandate and the need to act in a manner consistent with the Bank’s risk tolerance,” he assured. (TL)

First-ever Children and Caregivers conference to be held next week


Psychotherapist Dr. Hazel DaBreo and an Early Childhood Education officer are among professionals who will speak to participants at the first ever two-day conference, which will focus on “Children and Caregivers: The Importance of their Relationships”.

A project of the USA-based charity, Reachwithin, it takes place on Thursday, June 26 and Friday, June 27, 2014 at the St. George’s University. Organised in collaboration with the St. George’s University (SGU) and the Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF), the conference will, for the first time in Grenada, bring together a unique group of child development experts from both the US and Grenada.

Dr. Karen Lawson, founder of Reachwithin, is keen for all involved in the education, nurturing, protection and personal development of children in Grenada, and across the Caribbean, to attend the conference, in particular home and day-care staff, roving caregivers, CPA workers, police officers, students and parents.

“I have a special love for Grenada and its children, especially vulnerable children and those raised in the care system,” said Dr. Lawson. “That is why I chose to base Reachwithin here and to launch a conference, the first of its kind, on this beautiful island.

“Reachwithin would like to thank local businesses that have, thus far, helped to turn what was a dream into a reality,” continued Dr. Lawson. “Their very kind donations have allowed up to 25 Grenadian care home workers, who could not afford the fee, to attend the conference. Their contributions also went towards  providing supporting documents and luncheons for the delegates.”

Dr. Richard Honigman, Chair, Reachwithin Advisory Board, added: “Children are our future and it’s important that we raise them with self-esteem, self-respect, dignity and pride. This conference will focus on the importance of early adaptive relationships and interactions that mutually support both the child and caregiver. Our aim is to help caregivers set the stage for their child’s ongoing growth to ensure that the nurturing is culturally respectful, so that the child may develop positive and healthy relationships with those whom they interact with in later life.” (LS)

Providing a level playing field key


IN the Caribbean whenever we speak about women being disadvantaged, there will always be someone who immediately says “What about men?”

Representative of the UN Women Multi-Country Office – Caribbean, Christine Arab, made this observation during the recent culmination of the “Breakfast Club”, which was held by the Barbados Council for the Disabled in collaboration with the Business & Professional Women’s Club of Barbados.

“This is not about putting women ahead of men, this is the simple statistical fact that in your country, girls outperform boys in school, but they underperform boys in economic earnings, labour and active labour activity; they are more likely to be poor; they are more likely to head up larger households that are poor. And women with disabilities have two times the likelihood of unemployment than men with disabilities. Even when people are facing disabilities, women with disabilities often face two-fold,” she revealed.

Ms. Arab went on to share that leadership is only one of the areas UN Women concentrates on, through working with political parties to get more women elected.

She indicated that the Caribbean has one of the lowest rates of women political participation in the world; lower than the Arab region for most countries.

“There are countries in the Caribbean that have only ever elected one female, but it doesn’t make sense does it, because if you go into any ministry or government office there are largely women working there,” she pointed out.

“We work with men and women politicians about trying to make sure that the policies they put forward are gender responsive and more inclusive.”

“But when we talk about leadership, it is about women at the local level, it is about women getting involved in community services, it is about helping women get the child care they need so they can get out and involved. We would like to do much more with women who are facing challenges if because they are disabled,” she said. (TL)

Donate more blood


GRENADIANS and other residents of the English-speaking Caribbean are being urged to donate more blood.

According to the World Health Organisation’s Global Status Report on Blood Safety and Availability, low- to middle-income countries lagged considerably behind higher-income countries in meeting national goals for maintaining adequate stockpiles of blood and blood products.

For example, in 2010, territories of the English-speaking Caribbean combined reported collecting some 92 972 units of whole blood, which is about 12 units per 1 000 of population. This contrasted to the approximately 37 units per 1 000 usually collected by higher-income countries.

In its message to mark World Blood Donor Day, which was observed on Saturday, the Pan American Health Organisation and World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO) Office of Caribbean Programme Co-ordination had recommended that Caribbean countries observed the day by bolstering national efforts to achieve and maintain adequate stockpiles of blood and blood products.

Maternal deaths

“Best practice dictates that blood collection should be based on 100 per cent voluntary, freely donated blood, without offer of compensation. The rationale for this is to promote donation by persons who are motivated by a desire to help others, rather than by financial need, as this is likely to yield a donor pool which is at lower risk of infectious diseases,” the message stated.

The theme for World Blood Donor Day 2014 was “Safe Blood for Saving Mothers”. The main objective was to support blood donation on behalf of pregnant women as they prepare for delivery.

According to PAHO, about 800 women worldwide die every day from pregnancy or childbirth-related complications including severe bleeding.

“Timely access to safe blood and blood products is essential for all countries as a component of comprehensive programmes to prevent maternal deaths,” the message stated.

World Blood Donor Day was designated an annual event by a resolution of the 58th World Health Assembly in 2005.

Caribbean LED Lighting receives backing for its WINSUN energy project


From left: High Commissioner of Canada for Barbados and the
OECS, Richard Hanley, stands with Jim Reid, Chief Executive
Officer of WINSUN; Lisa Harding, Investment Officer with the
Private Sector Development Unit of the Caribbean Development
Bank (CDB); and Joel Branski, Inter-American Development Bank
(IDB) Country Representative for Barbados, at the official signing
ceremony between Compete Caribbean and Caribbean LED Lighting.
Barbadian firm, Caribbean LED Lighting Inc., is the proud winner of the Compete Caribbean Innovation Challenge, with its WINSUN Caribbean Energy Project. The idea behind the WINSUN project is to reduce the region’s dependence on fossil fuels, as well as to increase innovation and job creation within Barbados.

This award is the first of this kind to be given to a Barbadian company. Having now successfully won the bid, the company will be able to further develop its business and increase its export markets through Compete Caribbean technical assistance, valued at US$250 000.

According to Jim Reid, Chief Executive Officer of Caribbean LED Lighting/WINSUN, “The WINSUN project is an innovative project conceptualised right here in Barbados and expected to generate around 30 to 50 ‘green jobs’ within the next five years.”  

Reid further noted that the global application of the project will provide real off-grid solutions to Barbados and the rest of the world.

The WINSUN project specifically embodies an innovative vision for Barbados and the wider Caribbean, where the choice of “grid” versus “off-grid” energy supply is real and accessible. Reid has noted that the company has steadily made its mark with projects such as off-grid street lighting at The Villages at Coverley and already the company’s concept has given life to new business models and even competition.

High Commissioner of Canada for Barbados and the OECS,
Richard Hanley, and Executive Director of Compete Caribbean, Sylvia Dohnert, during the signing ceremony to celebrate
Caribbean LED Lighting’s success in winning the Compete
Caribbean grant worth US$250 000.
This new product development will be developed in collaboration with the Inter-American Development Bank, through the Compete Caribbean award of the US$250 000 match funding grant, under its Enterprise Innovation Challenge Fund (EICF) Innovation Window, which supports the development of a renewable energy product, that offers an off-grid option.

In that light, Executive Director of Compete Caribbean, Sylvia Dohnert, has lauded the effort of Caribbean LED Lighting in pushing the WINSUN project.

“The WINSUN project is a shining example of innovation, responding to current local dynamics and addresses the most major energy concern in Barbados,” she noted.

“It is a resounding success story for Barbados, for Compete Caribbean and for the region. The company’s focus is on being the primary supplier of high quality, economical LED lighting solutions and this grant will no doubt go a long way in helping them achieve their goals,” Dohnert remarked.

Making remarks ahead of the official signing ceremony between Compete Caribbean and Caribbean LED Lighting at the company’s headquarters in Building #3 Square Foot Complex, Lower Estate, St. Michael, Barbados recently, High Commissioner of Canada for Barbados and the OECS, Richard Hanley, noted that Canada is proud to partner with the joint (Compete Caribbean) programme contributing $20 million towards this programme, which is being implemented between 2010-2016.

“WINSUN’s project will create an opportunity for wind and solar energy efficiency in Barbados and we look forward to seeing the benefits of this technology in Barbados and beyond,” Hanley stated.

Also making remarks at the signing ceremony, Lisa Harding, Investment Officer with the Private Sector Development Unit of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), noted the need for such a project, given the high price of electricity to date and the country’s vulnerability to external shocks and world market prices. (RSM)

Poor credit rating can impact on PPPs

From left: HK Yong, Advisor (Public-Private Partnerships)
of the Commonwealth Secretariat, London; Veronica
Bennett-Warmington, Senior Director Public-Private Partnerships,
Ministry of Finance and Planning (Jamaica); and Carl Howell,
Economist, Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), discussing
Accounting and Fiscal Challenges, Impact of P3.

Carl Howell, Economist at the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), has outlined that “there is a negative correlation between countries with poor credit quality and the appetite for public – private partnerships (PPP)”.

The Economist was among top brass of business persons, political and private sector agencies throughout the region that met in Trinidad and Tobago at the 2014 CIBC FirstCaribbean Infrastructure Conference themed ‘Driving Caribbean Infrastructure Forward’. The conference is aimed at fostering a greater understanding of how the PPP model can be used throughout the region.

“There is no broad international consensus on what constitutes a public-private partnership (PPP). Broadly, PPP refers to arrangements, typically medium to long term, between the public and private sectors whereby some of the services that fall under the responsibilities of the public sector are provided by the private sector, with clear agreement on shared objectives for delivery of public infrastructure and/ or public services...” according to the World Bank.

Credit Risk

Howell explained, “The PPP is asking the private sector to take on public sector risk. It is saying provide us with capital for infrastructure and services that traditionally would have been provided by the public sector, if you give us a return we could bring upfront capital build out the infrastructure and pay over time.”

“Countries that don’t have a decent credit rating, that indicates you are a credit risk, the stronger the credit quality of a country then the more appealing or bigger appetite the private sector would have to support infrastructure development.”

“Some countries have infrastructural deficit, limited financing space you need the private sector to come on board but if you don’t have good credit quality then there is no real appetite so it does affect Barbados and all the countries out there with relatively poor credit quality, thus PPP’s at this point is not the best way to go. It is not that the private sector would not do a PPP but the risk premium that they ask the countries to provide would be higher rather than a 2 or 3 per cent loan, you could be talking upwards to 6 or 7 per cent which is expensive money so now the project benefits would be eroded because the cost of funding is expensive.”

The Economist pointed out, “The countries in the region that lead in relation to having PPP related capacity would be Jamaica, Trinidad and some extent Haiti these are countries with PPP laws already in place, where PPP’s work best would be in countries that have a strong regulatory environment, strong transparent mechanism for dealing with PPP’s.”

“Barbados is not as advanced as Jamaica and Trinidad, but the good news is that CDB is seeking to put in a unit dedicated to building out capacity across the region, across the banks borrowing member countries and Barbados will be right there to benefit from that expertise. The unit is still at conception stage, we are working with IDB, IFC and Wold Bank. We believe by year end it could be up and running.”

“In the past PPPs were seen as a project modality that could keep the debt off the balance sheet of Central Government, strictly speaking that is not the case because accounting standard in particular international public accountant standards, which states that you need to recognise a contingent liability on the books. As counties migrated using accrual accounting that meant you had to bring all of these projects to book then the debt level in countries skyrocketed.”

“We are building capacity and we need to recognise that PPP’s are really on book transaction and you should look to ensure that you have got an efficiently structured project, rather than focusing on whether it is an on balance sheet or off balance sheet transaction.” (NB)