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Raúl Castro defends more unity and integration Cuba-Caricom

Raúl Castro defends more unity and integration Cuba-Caricom

Antigua and Barbuda, Dec 8. 2017 – Cuban President Raúl Castro today called for unity in diversity, integration and genuine cooperation among Caribbean states to face common challenges and problems of the region and the world.

In a speech on the opening day of the 6th summit of his country and the Caribbean Community (Caricom), the head of state also warned of the dangers that loom and increase over the human species.

“How can we face the challenge of moving towards development in the midst of the deep economic, social, political and environmental crisis that this hemisphere and the world is suffering?”, Raúl Castro asked the Prime Ministers of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne, and Granada, Keith Mitchell.

“The dangers for the survival of the human species increase. The consequences of the application of concepts not universally accepted as ‘humanitarian intervention” and “responsibility to protect”, are used to cover interventionist and aggressive actions that threaten international peace and security”, he said.

Such situations, the Cuban president said, “call us to defend international law and the full validity of the purposes and principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations”.

Raúl Castro considered that the Caribbean countries should be articulated to demand a fair action by the industrialized powers in order to mitigate and adapt the effects of climate change, “particularly with financial resources and technology transfer”, he added.

Likewise, he said, “we should agree on approaches to the 2030 agenda for sustainable development and, especially, to collectively face the mechanisms of domination imposed on us by the unjust international financial system”.

In his address to the other leaders of the 14 nations of the regional body, the Cuban president expressed the will of Havana to promote and promote ties with its neighbors in various areas.

“I reiterate Cuba’s invariable position of supporting, in all circumstances, the right of small island states and developing nations to receive special and differential treatment in access to trade and investment”.

“We will continue to receive Caribbean students in our universities. The 5,640 young people of the Caribbean who have been trained and the 695 who are currently studying in them”, he emphasized.

Likewise, the Cuban leader considered that the thousand 762 Cuban collaborators present in all the countries of Caricom, of whom 1,469 in the health sector, “are part of Cuba’s contribution to the development of the Caribbean peoples”.

We intend to advance in the development of trade and investments. Between 2014 and 2016, commercial exchange grew by 70 percent. This year marches at a good pace, assessed.

He added that the “broad and diverse” participation of Caribbean companies and agencies in the recent International Fair of Havana augurs greater growth in that regard.

“We welcome the implementation in January 2018 of the Second Protocol to the bilateral Trade and Cooperation Agreement, a document that expands tariff preferences granted by Cuba and facilitates access to our markets”, said President Raul Castro. (PL)

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Opposition Leader Kamla Persad Bissessar and Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley

Government critical of Opposition over defeat of Anti-Gang legislation

PM Rowley: “And we’re seeing an exponential rise in gang activity,”

 

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Dec 7, CMC – The Trinidad and Tobago government Thursday blasted Opposition legislators after they failed to provide the necessary support for the Anti-Gang Legislation that the authorities said was needed to deal with the rising gang activities in the country.

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley told a news conference that all objections to the bill had been addressed and amended before it was put to the vote and accused the Opposition of supporting criminality by objecting to the legislation that had required a two-thirds majority in Parliament.

At the end of it all…there was not a single impediment standing in their way…every single thing they raised including the (comments by the) Chief Whip (David Lee) (were addressed).

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad Bissessar and Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley

“On December 7, 2017, in the wee hours of the morning, (Opposition) refused to use their vote to defend the lives of the people,” a visibly upset Rowley told reporters.”

“The business of Trinidad and Tobago was gutted and undermined. We have a scourge of gang activity in many if not most of our communities, there are thousands of families where the quality of life is being severely impacted by illegal activity.

“For some inexplicable reason, our colleagues in the Parliament found it difficult or impossible to convert the scourge of gang activity into an illegal activity,” he added.

The Anti-Gang Bill 2017 seeks to make provision for the maintenance of public safety and order through discouraging membership of criminal gangs and the suppression of criminal gang activity and for other related matters.

It seeks to make it an offence to be a member of a gang, to be in possession of a bullet-proof vest, to participate in, or contribute to, the activities of a gang, to support or invite support for a gang, or to harbour or conceal gang members or recruit persons to a gang.

The legislation also contains a ‘retaliatory clause’ which protects persons who have left gangs from retaliatory actions by gang members.

Opposition legislators voted against the bill that had first been introduced here during the term in office of the People’s Partnership government headed by Kamla Persad Bissessar.

Former Legal Affairs Minister Prakash Ramadhar abstained when the vote was taken during the early hours of Thursday morning and has promised to outline his position at a news conference  on the weekend.

Rowley told reporters that he had spoken to the Lee seeking to determine the objections of the Opposition saying that the main opposition United National Congress (UNC) was seeking to benefit from the crime situation in order to attain power.

“Kamla Persad-Bissessar and her UNC gang and cabal voted to maintain that status quo….so that crime and criminality can remain a chronic state of affairs, so that those politicians can point to the crime and call Trinidad and Tobago a failed state and hope that you will be disgusted with those in office and put them in office

“That is the most cynical, wicked and pernicious act,” Rowley said, adding that citizens should hold their representatives to account.

“You put them in office and you have to get them to work for you, because right now they are working for themselves. I could not believe…I served with people who would do something like that.”

Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi, who had earlier told legislators during the debate that between 2014 and this year, gangs in Trinidad and Tobago had increased 129 per cent and gang members have increased 60 per cent,

“And we’re seeing an exponential rise in gang activity,” he said, noting that in 2014 the acting Police Commissioner had said there were 92 gangs with 1,500 members.

“In 2016 it grew to 172 gangs and 2,358 members – today it’s 211 gangs and 2,458 members,” he said, adding that gang-related murders totalled 998 between 2010 and this year and the number of gang-related guns seized stands at 4,674.

According to Al-Rawi an estimated 1,195 firearms were seized since 2016 alone, reiterating that the number of gangs and their members in the nine police divisions ranging from 49 (Western) to nine (Eastern). There are also 221 members in the Witness Protection Programme, he noted.

Al- Rawi said that when the bill was first introduced here by the previous government, 463 were arrested under the law during the 2011 state of emergency (SoE).

Speaking at the news conference Al-Rawi said he was ‘shell-shocked’ by the Opposition’s behaviour, saying “we went over it bit by bit…when we came to take the final vote… all 21 PNM (People’s National Movement) members present voted yes. When we came to the vote from the Opposition it started with no…a big fat no.

“Suffice it to say it was shell-shocking to see what happened yesterday after 14 hours of work,” he said, telling reporters that he had observed that some Opposition legislators were in disagreement with the decision adopted by the Opposition Leader.

“I saw the look on the faces of those opposite me last night. I saw shock. I saw fear, I saw disgust. I saw a member of the UNC bench have some very heated words with his leader and storm out of the Parliament,” Al-Rawi added.

Prime Minister Rowley said his government would continue to seek to criminalise gang activity and will seek to use other laws in the interim in order to crack down on gang activity.

“I realised that Opposition was hell-bent on not making gang activity in Trinidad and Tobago an illegal act….we have one hell of a problem because Opposition has decided to come down in support of criminality in Trinidad and Tobago.”

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loop logo

Five killed in St Croix plane crash

 by Laura Dowrich-Phillips

Five passengers aboard a private plane are now dead following a plane crash at the Henry E. Rohlsen Airport on St.Croix.

The crash occurred at 8.54 pm last night, Thursday, December 7, 2017.

The Virgin Islands Port Authority confirmed in a statement that the private plane experienced mechanical issues that caused the crash.

“Sadly, all five persons onboard perished – including the pilot,”  the Port Authority said. 

The deceased are believed to be members of a popular soca band in St Croix but the names of the deceased are withheld pending notification of next of kin. 

Governor Kenneth Mapp and the Port Authority’s board, management and staff offered their deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the deceased.

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Minister Lewis and Michelle Cassell at 16th Caribbean Ministerial Strategic ICT Seminar - Copy

MCW Minister Lewis at Regional Seminar on Single ICT Space

Minister Lewis and Michelle Cassell at 16th Caribbean Ministerial Strategic ICT Seminar

The Honourable Minister of Communications, Works and Labour, Paul Lewis and the Ministry’s Executive Officer, Michelle Cassell, are in the Bahamas for the 16th Caribbean Ministerial Strategic ICT Seminar.

The November 27th to 30th Meeting is being held under the theme, ‘Internet Imperatives for the Caribbean Single ICT Space’.  The seminar is hosted by the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) to explore the opportunities for growth and development available in cyberspace and to discuss the challenges currently experienced by Caribbean users in seizing these opportunities.

The recent destruction sustained in several Caribbean Territories by hurricanes this year, and the need for the region to reduce vulnerabilities and increase resilience to the impacts of climate change, will also form part of the discussion.  The CTU said, “Participants will also be introduced to strategies and actions, which can reduce the adverse effects of natural disasters and to enable faster and more effective recovery.”

The principal objectives of the Seminar are to:

  • Raise awareness on the infrastructural and other requirements for exploiting the Internet and its potential to support the Single ICT Space;
  • Identify the current opportunities in Cyberspace, the challenges faced in seizing them and the risks that exist;
  • Identify the roles of the various stakeholders in building the Caribbean Internet ecosystem;
  • Foster interest and spur collaborative action by Policy makers and other stakeholders to address the Internet imperatives for the Single ICT Space; and
  • Outline the processes and management of disaster mitigation and post-disaster recovery involving the use of ICT.

The Ministry of Communications, Works and Labour said these discussions are imperative given the ongoing thrust to ensure Montserrat has the necessary policies, plans and systems in place to fully utilise Information and Communications Technology (ICT).

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CIPP

Grenada dismisses criticism of CIP

ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada, Dec 4, CMC – The chairman of the board of the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP), Kaisha Ince, has dismissed a report by the self-styled United States-based financial analyst which he said is designed to discredit “a number of successful CIB programmes in the region” including Grenada.

“As Chairman of the Board of the Citizenship by Investment programme and as one of the persons referred to in (Kenneth) Rijock’s fabricated text message exchanges, I roundly reject the latest blogpost, which has unsubstantiated issues being put out as facts,” Ince said in a statement here.

She  said Rijock’s latest blog, like several of the previous, “is bogus and an outright lie, intended to mislead and deceive people, and to disrupt Grenada’s CBI Programme”.

Earlier this year, the Dominica government filed a lawsuit against Rijock after he failed to retract, apologize and pay compensation for the allegations that he made regarding the Dominica CIP.

In her statement, Ince said that there is “absolutely no truth to the allegations made or indeed to the text messages he refers to in the blog post.

“In fact, the text messages he presents are ludicrous to say the least. Similar to the “Wells Fargo Bank screenshot” relied on to purportedly substantiate the fake news story published by Rijock on 21 August, 2017, the text messages that appear in this most recent blog post are a total fabrication.”

Ince warned that Rijock should “cease and desist from continuing to disseminate this fake news pieces, which are clearly malicious falsehoods, as the Government will have no hesitation whatsoever in prosecuting them to the full force of law”.

Last month, Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell said the government expects to rake in more than EC$81 million (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents) in 2018 from the controversial CIP.

Grenada is one of several Caribbean Community (CARICOM) governments that has implemented the CIP through which foreign investors are provided with citizenship in return for making a substantial investment in the socio-economic development of the country.

Delivering the EC$1.1 billion national budget to Parliament on Monday, Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell said that his administration has “adopted conservative assumptions for receipts from the CBI Programme, to the tune of $81.1 million”.

He told legislators that the CIP, which commenced in 2014, has exceeded all expectations in 2017 and is now regarded as one of the highest-rated programmes in the world.

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Guyana venezuela border

ExxonMobil offers financial assistance to settle border controversy – report

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Dec. 3, CMC – The government of Guyana could be getting help from US oil giant ExxonMobil, in its efforts to have a judicial settlement of the border controversy with Venezuela.

According to News Source Guyana, Government sources have reported that the company has set aside just under US$20 million to assist Guyana with legal fees and other costs that could be incurred once Guyana moves to have the judicial settlement of the border controversy.

Guyana venezuela border“Our national sovereignty is riding on this issue and it will be remiss of us if we are not prepared and all resources are not put in place. The actual amount is more than GUY$15 million but less than GUY$20 million. This is not the first time we are going this route as it was done with the CGX Energy and Suriname after the June 2000 incident with the Surinamese coastguard. The PPP was then in office. This is nothing new. This is not a signing bonus, but rather we are garnering the resources to prepare for the case. This is a sovereignty issue,” the source was quoted as saying.

Venezuela contends that the Arbitral Award of 3 October 1899 demarcating the border between Guyana (British Guiana at the time) and Venezuela is null and void. Consequently, it continues to lay claim to two-thirds of Guyana’s territory.

In 2015, the Guyana government requested the United Nations Secretary-General to take steps toward a resolution of the controversy using an option from the menu as stated in the Geneva Agreement of February 17, 1966.

Further, last year, as a consequence of a stalemate on the matter, outgoing United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon agreed with his successor,  António Guterres, to continue to use the Good Offices Process until the end of 2017 as a means of arriving at a settlement.

According to the mandate of the Personal Representative, “If, by the end of 2017, the Secretary-General concludes that no significant progress has been made toward arriving at a full agreement for the solution of the controversy, he will choose the International Court of Justice as the next means of settlement, unless the Governments of Guyana and Venezuela jointly request that he refrain from doing so.”

The government statement said that since his appointment on 27 February this year, Nylander has visited Guyana on four occasions holding talks with President David Granger and Greenidge, among others.

In September, the Guyana delegation to the United Nations General Assembly met with the Secretary-General as well as Nylander and held informal discussions with Venezuelan counterparts.

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Lowell Hawthorne

CEO of Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery & Grill founder reportedly commits suicide in NY factory

NEW YORK, Dec 3, CMC – The founder and chief executive officer of Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery & Grill, Jamaican Lowell Hawthorne reportedly killed himself inside his Bronx, New York factory on Saturday .

According to police reports, Hawthorne, 57, shot himself inside the Park Ave. building, near E. 173rd St., in Claremont section of the Bronx, at about 5:30 p.m.

Lowell Hawthorne

The  New York Daily news reports more than a dozen current and former employees stood in disbelief outside the factory hours later.

“He was a good boss, humble and a good businessman,” said Pete Tee, 27, a former employee, “He never seemed sad. This is just terrible news right now.”

Hawthorne opened the first Golden Krust store on E. Gun Hill Rd. in the Bronx in 1989, going on to build the Jamaica beef patty purveyor into a US national empire by boasting more than 120 restaurants in nine states.

Pat Russo, who has worked with Hawthorne since the 1990s, was shocked by the news that his fellow businessman had taken his own life.

“It doesn’t make any sense. He had everything to live for,” said Russo, who is the president of Chef’s Choice food company. “He was a brilliant business guy. The perfect American success story.”

Hawthorne’s death sent shockwaves from the streets of the Bronx to government offices in Jamaica where Prime Minister Andrew Holness fired off a tweet offering his condolences.

Some of Hawthorne’s employees said they suspected something was amiss when they spotted his car, a silver Tesla 85D, parked oddly outside the factory – blocking a lane of traffic.

Longtime employee Everald Woods said he loved working under Hawthorne.

“He was a nice boss, a wonderful guy,” said Woods, an employee since 2003. “He’s the kind of guy you want to work for – for that long. He takes care of his employees.”

Family friend Wayne Muschamb said Hawthorne was an inspiration to his compatriot in Jamaica.

“Look how far he reached. He’s known from here to Jamaica,” Muschamb told the Daily News. “I’m kind of lost for words, man. This has got me shocked.”

Hawthorne’s rags-to-riches story was set in motion in 1981 when he followed several relatives to the US from Jamaica in search of opportunity.

He briefly worked as an accountant for the New York Police Department (NYPD) before deciding to build a business inspired by his father’s bakery back in Jamaica.

Golden Krust became the first Caribbean-owned business in the US to be granted a franchise license, according to its website.

In 2012, Hawthorne published “The Baker’s Son: My Life in Business,” a memoir.

“It’s a very humbling experience to know that the concept that began in Jamaica with our parents was able to come here,” Hawthorne told the Daily News at the time.

Hawthorne told the Wall Street Journal in 2015 that his goal was that, “by 2020, all Americans will have heard of Jamaican patties,” according to the New York Post.

He told the newspaper that it’s a family operation with Hawthorne’s wife, three sons and daughter, not to mention cousins. nieces and nephews, all involved.

Saddened employees gathered outside the Golden Krust factory, at 3958 Park Ave. Saturday night to pay their respects.

“He’s a nice man, a good man,’’ said John Harrison, who had been working there for three years. “The Jamaican people, they feel it. All of us are Jamaican. We lost a Jamaican, we feel it.’’

Hanaku Oxori, who had worked at the plant for 17 years, said, “he’s nice with everyone here.”

The suicide “was a surprise to me,” he added. “We saw him every day. He talks to everyone. He was always in a good mood.”

Hawthorne, on November 28, made a post on Facebook, reflecting on his life.

“I was always in search of the next honest means to make a dollar,” he wrote. “Like many transplanted Caribbean nationals, I struggled to work and raise a family. I can only thank God for everything I have achieved.”

“If my story here can inspire others to rise up and give it a go, I would have accomplished something meaningful,” he added.

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Clive-Harveys

Roman Catholic Bishop hospitalised after collapsing during Church service

ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada, Dec 1, CMC – The recently appointed Roman Catholic Bishop of Grenada, Clive Harvey remained hospitalised on Friday after collapsing while conducting service at the Cathedral of immaculate Conception on Thursday.

Bishop Clive Harvey

Catholic Media Service confirmed that Bishop Harvey, who became the second Trinidad and Tobago national to be ordained as the Roman Catholic Bishop of Grenada, succeeding Grenadian, Bishop Vincent Darius, collapsed at the end of a special mass early Thursday.

He was taken to the St. George’s Hospital where he is undergoing various tests with medical officials indicating that the 68-year-old Bishop suffered low blood pressure and extreme dehydration.

Church officials quoted him as saying Friday that all his vital signs were normal and he is in good spirit.

In July, Harvey was appointed to the position replacing Bishop Darius, who had died 15 months earlier.

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ECHO Factsheet – Caribbean – November 2017

ECHO Factsheet – Caribbean – November 2017

FACTS & FIGURES

6.2 million people have been affected throughout the Caribbean due to extreme drought in 2015 – a consequence of the El Niño weather phenomenon.

€61 million for disaster preparedness since 1994 European Commission assistance to the Caribbean:

€540.5 million since 1994

  • €378.3 million for Haiti
  • €162.2 million for the rest of the Caribbean.

Introduction

The Caribbean region is spread over a “hurricane belt” and surrounded by several tectonic plates. It is exposed to severe, recurring natural hazards. In 2017, the hurricane season (usually June to November) was extreme, with Irma and Maria – both category 5, maximum strength hurricanes – devastating Dominica, Cuba, Antigua & Barbuda, but also severely affecting Turks & Caicos, St Kitts & Nevis, Sint Maarten and Saint Martin, the British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Haiti and Dominican Republic, and leaving millions destitute. The Caribbean is also prone to droughts, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, flash floods, landslides, mudslides, droughts and earthquakes, as well as recurrent epidemics.

What are the needs?

Humanitarian aid in the Caribbean focuses on access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene, health care, shelter, or providing food assistance and relief items. The protection of displaced and migrant populations is required in some countries.

Given the region’s vulnerability to frequent disasters, enhancing local capacities to respond to natural hazards is vital. The Commission’s disaster preparedness programme (DIPECHO) therefore supports simple, cost-efficient preventive measures implemented by the communities and national systems, enabling them to protect lives and livelihoods before, during and after a disaster strikes. The Commission also supports the integration of disaster risk reduction (DRR) in all our projects, through specific targeted actions.

How are we helping?

Since 1994, the European Commission’s has funded €540.5 million in humanitarian aid to the Caribbean. €378.3 million have been dedicated to Haiti, particularly in the wake of the devastating earthquake of 12 January 2010 which claimed 222 750 lives. EU-funded programmes against the ongoing cholera epidemic and recurrent food insecurity by providing shelter, safe drinking water, healthcare, food assistance, protection, livelihood activities, and access to water and sanitation.

Throughout the region, €162.2 million has been allocated to humanitarian emergencies. For disaster-preparedness activities, the Commission has committed €61 million. The Commission focuses on linking emergency relief and longer term development interventions, helping to build the resilience of the most vulnerable population groups.

Following categories 5 hurricane Irma and Maria’s landfall in the Caribbean in September 2017, the Commission provided €2.9 million through the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Food Programme (WPF) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) to provide temporary shelters, safe drinking water, health and sanitation services and food aid, in Cuba, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Saint Kitts and Nevis, St Maarten, and Turks and Caicos.

These events took place after an extreme drought that has affected over 6.2 million people in Caribbean countries since 2015 – a consequence of the El Niño weather phenomenon. As such, for the period of 2015-2017, the Commission has funded response interventions in Haiti (€12.2 million), the Dominican Republic (€1.1 million), and Cuba (€700 000) to mitigate the impact of the drought on people’s livelihoods, food security, nutritional status, and health. The total response for 2015-2017 amounts to €14 million.

After tropical storm Erika battered Dominica in August 2015, €300 000 were released to bring relief to victims, including access to water and sanitation, and hygiene promotion to minimise diseases and rebuild health services. Over €300 000 were also released to help bring relief to the victims of floods in Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent & the Grenadines following severe rains in December 2013. The assistance included distribution of food and relief items, access to water and sanitation, and hygiene promotion.

Through its DIPECHO programme, the Commission allocated €12.1 million for disaster preparedness across the Caribbean in 2015-2016. Projects funded included the promotion of early warning systems, strengthening health infrastructure, retrofitting shelters and school facilities to withstand disasters and improving awareness of the risks linked to earthquakes, tsunamis and hurricanes. In 2017, another €2 million were allocated for disaster preparedness.

Posted in Climate/Weather, Environment, General, International, Local, News, Regional0 Comments

IMF Meeting pic 2

ECCB Governor Calls for Fiscal Resilience Legislation in the Caribbean

Governor ECCB Timothy N. J. Antoine

The Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), Timothy N. J. Antoine has issued a call for the adoption of fiscal resilience legislation in the Caribbean.

Speaking at the recent International Monetary Fund (IMF) 2017 High Level Caribbean Forum in Jamaica, Governor Antoine emphasised that given the region’s vulnerability to external shocks, building fiscal resilience is critical to reducing growth volatility. He suggested that fiscal resilience legislation (sometimes referred to as fiscal responsibility legislation) would allow governments to better respond to shocks by empowering them to implement counter-cyclical fiscal policy in times of economic downturn.

Governor Antoine agreed with Bruce Golding, former Prime Minister of Jamaica, that a provision for fiscal responsibility should be placed in the Constitution. However, in the absence of, Constitutional provisions, the Governor noted that “the people are the ultimate custodians of fiscal responsibility legislation”. To that end, he recommended the engagement of social partners to engender broad support for fiscal responsibility legislation reform.

The 2017 High Level Caribbean Forum was held on 16 November under the theme: “Unleashing Growth and Strengthening Resilience in the Caribbean“. It focused on the unique issues the Caribbean region is facing and the opportunities that can be found within, to cope with the changing global landscape.

The issues addressed were:

1. The Caribbean Growth Challenge Crime and Youth Unemployment;

2. Fiscal Policy and Political Cycles; and

3. Financial Sector: Stability and Growth Tradeoffs.

The Forum concluded with a panel discussion on Challenges and Opportunities in the Caribbean, which examined the findings and some of the key takeaways from the Conference. The panelists were:

1. The Most Honourable Andrew Holness, Prime Minister of Jamaica

2. Dr The Right Honourable Keith Mitchell, Prime Minister of Grenada

3. The Honourable Kevin Peter Turnquest, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of The Bahamas

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The Montserrat Reporter - August 18, 2017

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