Archive | Announcements/Greetings


Montserrat 2019 General Elections heralds in a change of government

The Movement for Change and Prosperity (MCAP) team of candidates that successfully returned five of their team in the just concluded Montserrat 2019 General Elections.

Five of these candidates were winners. Two newcomers to the Legislature: Crenston Buffonge with the most votes in the poll, (1st left back row); Veronica DORSETTE-HECTOR (2nd left front row); half-term incumbent, Dr. Sammy Joseph (1st from rt back row); and the leader now fourth time Legislator, Easton Taylor-Farrell (2nd from left back row); and veteran fourth time Legislator, Charles Kirnon (between 2001 and 2019)

See here: 2019 Election Results

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Dr. Lowell Lewis – Election Proposals and Committment

“Dr. Lowell Lewis wishes to inform the people of Montserrat, at home and abroad, that he once again wishes to represent our beloved country, as a member of our Parliament.

Dr. Lowell Lewis, former Chief Minister

At this election, I am pleased to work with and support Mr. Gregory Willock, incumbent Montserrat Legislator, the founder of the Montserrat National Congress, as an appreciation of the unconditional support that he has provided for me in the past.

I am also pleased to be working with and supporting Mr. Chedmond Browne, former Montserrat Legislator (2001-2006), who like me had a military background and has dedicated his whole life to the fight for freedom, democracy and equal opportunities for all people.

We promise to continue working for our people and our nation, for the rest of our lives and look forward to collaborating with all the other candidates in this election for the development of our Nation.

I also support and acknowledge the common objectives of other candidates, Dr. Ingrid Buffonge,  incumbent Legislator and Miss Veta Wade who have shared our campaign platforms; and my close friend and colleague Mr. Wilford Meade (Moose) who I was pleased to nominate as a candidate for this election.

The following is the list of policy issues and programs that will be actively pursued by our team.

l-r: Dr, Ingrid Buffonge, Gregory Willock, Chedmond Browne

Policy Issues and Programs proposed for Session 2019 to 2024

 “Good governance exalts a nation and eliminates corruption”. 

The enactment of Legislation for Integrity in Public Office and a Freedom of Information Act will be a priority.

We will involve our young people as they embody the future.    They will be provided with opportunities for education, training, sports, cultural activities, jobs, land, and capital to support small business ventures.

All Ministries will support community development projects.  We will provide budgets for the activities of Village Councils.

We will promote linkages and partnerships with overseas Montserratian associations and friends of Montserrat.

We will aggressively encourage the return of retired Montserratians living abroad by seeking finance for housing construction for persons over the age of 65.

We will aggressively encourage the return of middle agreed Montserratians, by seeking funds for the financing of private sector business.

Constitutional Issues

• Review of the new Montserrat Constitution Order Amendments of the draft to:-

i. Alter the electoral system.  National consultations and a referendum to determine options preferred for:-  Number of constituencies    Size of constituencies  number of votes per voter At large representatives

ii. Remove vote of non-elected members of the Montserrat Legislative Assembly

iii. Establish criteria for postal ballots.

 iv. Compulsory leave, without risk of loss of employment, for all candidates at a general election.

v. Revision of requirement for nomination of general election candidates.  

• Ensure comprehensive discussion of the new Montserrat Constitution Order with the public, prior to its enactment, and ensure enactment provides for constitutional advancement and self-determination.

• Review procedures for overcoming the restrictions of contingent liability associated with Overseas Territory status.

• Continue the comprehensive law reform exercise to modernize Montserrat’s laws.

• Implement activities of Human  Rights and Integrity  Commissions on Montserrat.

• Continue participation in the United Nation’s Decolonization Committee consultations

• Establish a program for achieving political maturity, administrative capacity, and economic sustainability, through regional integration. 

• Continue constitutional modernization towards self-governance, whilst retaining the special relationships that currently exist between our administering country, the United Kingdom and its previous colonies.

Sustainable Development Plan

Implementation of the Sustainable Development Plan of Montserrat will be a priority to allow the achievement of our objective to increase the population of  Montserrat to over 8,000 and be out of grant in aid by 2020. 

Our programs will be prioritized in 3 phases.                

Once our government demonstrates commitment to good governance and integrity in political leadership, the United Kingdom, Europe and other aid agencies, whose mandate is to create sustainable communities and alleviate world poverty, would support our proposals. 

Government of Montserrat would then cease being a financial burden for their taxpayers, and guarantee for its people a good quality of life.  Good governance legislation will be further improved, to facilitate the attraction of more investment to Montserrat.

Our listed project proposals have the potential to provide over 10% growth in the economy for each year.  This will require the provision of grant aid, investments and loan financing of approximately EC$1,500 million for the next five-year period.

Allocated as follows:
Breakdown ECD$ Millions  

ECD$ Millions Investment Capital and loans – 850; Capital Aid – 650; Total – 1500.

Port – 300; Little Bay Town 100; Roads and Utilities – 120;  Housing – 200; Government facilities – 60; Airport improvements – 100; Geothermal electricity – 80; Industrial estates and projects 500 – Tourism destination sites – 40; Total – 1,500.

Project proposals

This estimate is derived from an analysis of the following proposed 40 projects, many of which are linked, some ongoing, and some in planning phase:-

• Montserrat Development Corporation
• Small Business Financing Program
• Private Sector Development
• Statehouse, Court House, and Parliament Building
Tourist Destination and Facilities Development
• National Trust Museum and Archeological sites restoration
• The Montserrat Cultural Centre extension
• Institute of  Performing Arts and Film Production
• Sports facilities developments at Blakes,  Little Bay,  Brades  Salem, and St Peters.
• Inter-Island Sports Project
• Split-site 18 hole golf course
• Little Bay Town Development
• Little Bay Marina/Safe Harbour Developments
• Carr’s Bay  Port Development
• Airport improvement and extension or relocation 
• Education Facilities Development
• Hospital and Health Services Development
• Social Welfare improvement
• Vulnerable persons Housing
• Home improvement and volcano evacuees housing
• Returning Montserratians housing
• Residential and Commercial Housing Development Projects at; Look Out, Drummonds, Davy Hill,  Brades,   Barzeys, and Jones Hill.
• Jones Hill, Silver Hill’s and Blake’s Residential Tourism Developments
• Electricity generation projects (Diesel, Wind,  Solar, and Geothermal)
• Public works equipment and road rehabilitation and expansion
• Montserrat Volcano Observatory
• A Montserrat Volcano Observatory through Hope to Runaway Ghaut bypass road.
• School of Disaster Research, Education and (Search and Rescue Training)  
• OECS Climate and Volcano Institute and Mountain top Hotel
• Isles Bay to Foxes Bay access road and barge ramp or jetty, for export of volcanic materials.
• Cement manufacture and export projects at Sturge Park and Trants
• Rehabilitation of South of Belham properties by the provision of road access and utility services, to areas in Foxes Bay and Brandsbay Point which are at low risk of exposure to the volcanic eruption events.  
• Conveyor belt mining, stockpiling, and exportation of volcanic material from the Trants area.
• Roads to the Silver Hills and Dick Hill area. 
• Agricultural feeder roads in the north.
• Food production, processing, exportation, and security project.
• A north of Montserrat Corbett Spring to Silver Hills water supply project and water bottling plant for export. 
• A fish and turtle farm and recreational beach facility at Marguerita Bay, Look Out. 
• A People’s Pentecostal Cathedral at Look Out
• Medical Schools locally designed and owned
• Public service review and rationalization

The foregoing is a ‘paid-for’ party political publication

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Vernaire Bass

New head of Planning and Production at MAC

The Montserrat Arts Council (MAC) has a mandate to foster the development of art; uplift the condition of arts and artists; advise the Minister on art and cultural matters; ensure the implementation of the government’s cultural policy; implement government’s regional and international cultural commitments; and co-ordinate the activities of the agencies in Montserrat responsible for cultural activities.

It is on that background of responsibility that the MAC with an operational budget which is 100% funded by the Government of Montserrat, moved to appoint a Head of Planning and Production.

Vernaire Bass

The announcement came in a release on September 2, 2019, which said that “Vernaire Bass has been appointed to the position of Head of Planning and Production.”

Miss Bass is a recent returnee to Montserrat and brings to the position more than 10 years of experience as a project manager and business strategist.
Bass acquired a Bachelor of Arts with honours in Business and Business Law at the London Metropolitan University in 2009. Since leaving university, Vernaire has worked for large U.K. organisations including the Royal College of Physicians, the Ministry of Defence, Capita PLC, Birmingham City Council, and most recently for the Ministry of Health and Social Services in Montserrat.

MAC’s Director Kenneth “Rabo” Silcott said Bass’ “extensive experience in project management, programme design and execution made her a natural fit for the Head of Planning and Production role. She comes to the MAC at a time when we are repositioning the organisation to better support the development of culture as a strong economic catalyst. I am very pleased to have her join the team.”

The senior role leads on logistics and planning of all MAC programmes, including festivals and cultural events. She will also support the director as the point of contact between private stakeholders and vendors on production-related matters and is expected to identify new cultural industry products that will enhance Montserrat’s tourism product and generate economic activity.

Miss Bass joins the team as of September 6, 2019.

Posted in Announcements/Greetings, Business/Economy/Banking, Culture, Entertainment, Local, News, OECS, Regional, TOURISM0 Comments

ECCB Polymer notes100

New polymer notes now reality in ECCU

ECCB polymer notes

ECCB Governor Timothy N.J. Antoine

By Bennette Roach

East Caribbean Currency Bank (ECCB) Governor Timothy N.J. Antoine announced in April, that the much touted new ‘polymer notes would be launched in June this year. It was then on May 29, 2019, the launch was celebrated via the still being upgraded video-tele conference to members in the East Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) and hosted by the Governor from the ECCB agency office in Grenada.

At the launch the Governor announced that the rollout will begin with the $50 notes placed in circulation immediately in June.

These will run concurrently with the existing paper notes during the transition phase. The $10, $20 and $100 polymer banknotes are scheduled for launch in September 2019, while the five-dollar banknotes will be launched in September 2020.

polymer notes are vertical

Not so fast though for Montserrat. The Governor explained that there will be a delay owing to a substantial stock of paper notes present in the Montserrat market which is also the case in the Anguilla market. As a result there is no need for the supply of the new notes until these markets see a decrease in the $50 notes.

During the live stream event Governor Antoine in his address informed that the new notes are of a higher quality and has advanced features compared to the old paper notes.

“Compared to paper notes, polymer notes are cleaner,” he said. They are resistant to dirt and moisture – more secure – they have advanced security features which make them harder to counterfeit – more durable as they last at least, three (to five) times longer than paper notes and more environmentally friendly,” he informed.

“The switch to polymer necessitated some changes to the designs of the notes in respect of technical and security specifications. However, even with these new design elements, we were careful to maintain a degree of familiarity for ease of use,” Antoine stated.

Governor Antoine also revealed that the new notes will also have a new design feature which will make it easier for persons with visual impairment to identify the notes. He said, “Very importantly, we have incorporated a feature [raised bumps] to make it easy for the blind and visually impaired to handle their money and their business.”

Additionally, a holographic foil strip has been introduced as an anti-counterfeiting feature on the $20, $50 and $100, which are most susceptible to counterfeiting.

The ECCB Governor explained that, “The circulation of the new notes will be phased. As unfit paper notes are returned to the Central Bank and our current inventory of paper notes is depleted, they will be replaced by polymer notes…Therefore, as a practical matter, the public ought to expect that both paper and polymer notes will be in circulation at the same time. They are both legal tender.”

At the beginning of his address, the Governor no doubt anticipating the very familiar question about the status of the EC$ said: “I hereby confirm that our EC dollar is strong. As of Friday, 24 May, 2019, the backing ratio was 98.4 per cent.”

“More importantly,” he continues. “our foreign reserves continue to grow and now total US$1.75 billion.”

The motivation for the move from ‘paper’ to ‘polymer’, he noted:  “Simply put, to enhance the security and usability of our EC notes.”

Earlier boasting that the ECCB is the first Central Bank in the region to move to polymer notes, he said: “To maintain trust and to stay ahead of counterfeiters, our Central Bank has a duty of care, indeed an obligation, to continually upgrade our notes. But our motivation is also personal.”

That he explained arose out of , “…I have had fishermen and vendors lament to me, their inability to get value for their notes after they were soiled or torn.  These stories have affected me.  I have asked myself how can our Central Bank help ensure that these hardworking folks get full value for their hard-earned money?  I believe polymer will greatly ease this hardship,” he said.

“From an economic standpoint, polymer notes are more cost-effective than paper,” he explained further, noting, “Although polymer notes are more expensive to produce upfront, their extended lifespan means that the notes are replaced less often.”

He concluded: “Consequently, there will be a reduction in transportation and handling costs thus reducing the overall cost of cash for the ECCB, commercial banks and credit unions.”

Then came the announcement: “Today, we unveil the first note in the EC family of notes – the EC$50,” describing as he immortalises his predecessor, “This new note bears the image of our late, great Governor, the Honourable Sir K Dwight Venner who served from December 1989 until November 2015.  Once again, I hail the colossal contribution of my illustrious predecessor. 

He said the new design features also include the signature of the current Governor, adding as well that the new notes also sport a portrait orientation design, which is a move away from the current landscape orientation of the paper notes.

“In conclusion, today is, indeed, a happy occasion for our Currency Union – your new notes are considerably better hence the tagline of our public education campaign: cleaner, safer, stronger.  Moreover, they are aesthetically pleasing.  Above all, they are a symbol of regional accomplishment,” the Governor beamed as we watched him on the video screen at the agency office at Brades.

See the following videos about the polymer notes:

EC Polymer Notes: Design and Features –

EC Polymer Notes – Cleaner, Safer, Stronger –

Posted in Announcements/Greetings, Business/Economy/Banking, Featured, Features, Local, News, OECS, Regional0 Comments

David Arkley

Montserrat represented at 2019 Hurricane Conference

Major Alvin Ryan
David Arkley

David Arkley is the UK Policy Adviser to the Governor and Head of the Governor’s office. He and Major Alvin Ryan, Director of the Disaster Management Coordination Agency (DMCA) are attending the annual UK Caribbean Overseas Territories and Bermuda Disaster Managers conference in Miami, Florida.
The three-day conference which ends today Friday, May 17th, 2019, commonly referred to as the annual Hurricane conference is organized by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in conjunction with the Disaster Management Advisor for the OTs Jon Snell, who is stationed in Miami.
A release today from the Government Information Unit (GIU), informs that the meeting brings together Disaster Managers and Heads of Governors Offices from the various Caribbean Overseas Territories and Bermuda, UK Defence officials, Officers from Royal Fleet Auxiliary RFA Mounts Bay and representatives from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Department for International Development, the British Red Cross and the private sector.
The meeting is discussing lessons learnt from the 2018 Atlantic Hurricane season, hurricane preparedness for the upcoming season which officially begins on June 1st and other important matters related to disaster preparedness in the Caribbean OTs and Bermuda.
It also provides an opportunity for invited companies to showcase their products and emerging disaster management technologies.

Posted in Announcements/Greetings, Climate/Weather, Hurricane, Local, News, Regional0 Comments

William Gelling

John Gordon and Will Gelling directors for OTS to visit Montserrat

William Gelling, Deputy Director, OTS at FCO, UK

John Gordon is the Deputy Director for the OTs and the Caribbean at DFID, along with Will Gelling, Deputy Director for the OTs at the FCO, will visit Montserrat from  Monday, for two days next week during a familiarisation visit to the Caribbean.

While on island, they are expected to meet with Premier and other ministers and senior officials in the Government of Montserrat. They will discuss a fair range of critical issues including disaster resilience and security, transport, environment, health, education and tourism polices and challenges.

They will also meet with key members of the business and political communities.

According to information from the Governor’s office, in between these discussions, both officials will visit the hospital, port and breakwater, airport, Montserrat Secondary School and the Davy Hill and Look Out communities. They will also view the volcanic exclusion zone.

The visit will end with a press briefing at the Governor’s Office in Brades.

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live science logo

Here’s What Could Happen If You Get Measles While Pregnant

By Cari Nierenberg, Live Science Contributor | May 16, 2019

Here’s What Could Happen If You Get Measles While Pregnant
Credit: Shutterstock

The measles can be dangerous for people of all ages, but the highly contagious virus poses a particular threat to pregnant women.

That threat was clearly illustrated in a recent case report, which detailed the case of a 27-year-old woman in England — who had not been vaccinated — who got measles during her third trimester and ended up needing an emergency cesarean section to save her baby.

When the woman was initially hospitalized, it wasn’t clear that she had measles, according to the case report, published May 9 in the journal BMJ Case Reports. In fact, it took doctors nearly 2 weeks to make the proper diagnosis. [27 Devastating Infectious Diseases]Advertisement

Within a day of being hospitalized, the woman began having severe breathing problems.

Problems that arise from any respiratory infection are more severe in pregnant women, because the immune system is in a naturally suppressed state, said lead case report author Dr. Jassimran Bansal, an obstetrics and gynecology resident at King’s College Hospital in London. But the woman’s breathing problems didn’t improve; they worsened over the next five days, and her lungs showed signs of severe respiratory failure.

Because both the woman and her baby’s health were at risk from her illness, the woman’s doctors recommended she have an emergency C-section, where she delivered a healthy, but premature baby.

Measles during pregnancy

Measles can be difficult to diagnose during pregnancy, because the infection’s telltale rash is often absent, said Bansal, who was involved with the woman’s treatment. It’s not clear why the characteristic rash — which shows up as distinctive large red spots that typically spread from the face to the neck, trunk, arms, legs and feet— may be absent, but it’s likely due to changes in the immune system that occur during pregnancy, she said.

In fact, the woman did have a mild rash when she went to the hospital during her 32nd week of pregnancy. She told doctors that she also had a sore throat and fever. The rash, which was itchy with red bumps, had first appeared on the palms of her hands and then spread to her face, according to the report. But simply having a rash doesn’t mean a person has the measles; other viruses can also cause rashes, Bansal said.

When the woman was admitted to the hospital, doctors initially suspected she may have had a nonspecific viral respiratory infection, like the flu, Bansal told Live Science. Measles was lower down on the list of possible diagnoses, because the woman didn’t have the typical rash, and because measles in pregnancy is still very rarein England, she noted.

As her illness worsened, however, doctors noted that her rash did spread to her chest, back and stomach, a pattern that is more typical of measles, according to the report.

Making the diagnosis

As the woman recovered from both her C-section and the illness, test results suggested that her breathing problems were due to pneumonia caused by a parainfluenza virus, a type of virus linked to respiratory infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Throat cultures from people with measles will also test positive for parainfluenza virus, according to the report.)

But it wasn’t until a week after the baby was born — when the woman’s husband came down with measles — that the doctors decided to test her for the infection, too.

Indeed, the woman had also had the measles, the tests revealed. But luckily, her baby did not. (Babies can develop “congenital measles,” a form of the disease that can be passed from mother to baby during pregnancy and appears shortly after birth.) [7 Ways Pregnant Women Affect Babies]

After spending three weeks in the hospital, the woman was sent home. Both mother and baby are doing fine, Bansal said, adding that the woman’s two other children had, in fact, received the MMR vaccine before their parents had come down with the measles.

Pregnant women who have not received the MMR vaccine, as was the case with this woman, are at increased risk of severe illness and complications of measles, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). The group also notes that getting the measles during pregnancy is linked with an increased risk of hospitalization and pneumonia, as well as an increased risk of giving birth prematurely, miscarriage or having a low-birth-weight baby.

Posted in Births, Health, International, Local, Regional, Science/Technology0 Comments

Justice Adrian Saunders - CCJ

CCJ President to receive UWI honorary doctorate

by staff writer

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Oct 19, CMC – The President of the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Justice Adrian Saunders, will receive an honorary doctorate from the Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI).

Justice Saunders will be conferred with the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws during the UWI graduation ceremony on Saturday.

Justice Adrian Saunders – CCJ

He will also be a guest speaker at The UWI’s graduation dinner on Friday night. Justice Saunders will be speaking on behalf of his fellow graduand Professor Ebenezer Oduro Owusu, Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana and Professor of Entomology at the Department of Animal Biology and Conservation Science.

“I am most appreciative of this honour that The UWI will bestow upon me and I am incredibly humbled and honoured by this recognition. I will accept it gratefully on behalf of my parents and siblings, my family, my colleagues at the CCJ, and all the people I have worked with who have all contributed to my success,” said Justice Saunders, who is the third Caribbean national to head the CCJ that was established in 2001 to replace the London-based Privy Council as the region’s final court.

“I would be remiss if I did not also mention the role that the  UWI has played in my success. My years at UWI gave me a depth of knowledge and a foundation that I am indebted to the institution for. Those years also provided me with mentors, life-long friends and many fond memories,” he added.

The St. Vincent and the Grenadines-born native  holds a Bachelor of Laws degree from the UWI in 1975 and a Legal Education Certificate from the Hugh Wooding Law School in Trinidad and Tobago in 1977.

The CCJ President said that the UWI had over the past 70 years been able to nurture generations of Caribbean leaders, as well as making an indelible mark on the development of the region.


Posted in Announcements/Greetings, CARICOM, Court, Education, International, Legal, Local, News, OECS, Regional0 Comments

Guyana and Austria sign MOU

Guyana and Austria sign MOU

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Sept 12, CMC – Guyana Wednesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Austria for transport, innovation and technology to enhance the local healthcare facilities.

Health Minister Volda Lawrence said the MOU is the beginning of a process which will result in enhanced healthcare facilities for citizens and that “concrete” projects could begin next year.

Health Minister Volda Lawrence and Dr. Gernot Grimm signing the MoU

“We are looking at the GPHC (Guyana Public Health Corporation) since it is our tertiary institution. You will be aware that particularly our A and E (Accident and Emergency) department is really under the threshold, in terms of a standard operating procedure that should pertain in a critical care unit.

“So, the first two aspects we will be getting involved with is a trauma centre and a critical care centre which will be able to take off the deficiencies which we do have presently. This will ensure improved delivery of care for our patients and also upgraded equipment for the staff works,” Lawrence said at the signing ceremony.

Chief of staff at the Austrian Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology, Dr. Gernot Grimm said the signing of the MOU is in keeping with the good relations enjoyed by the two countries over a number of years.

He said the success of the MOU would be seen in the tangible achievements sooner rather than later.

“We have brought along a couple of technical experts from Austria to have this work done as soon as possible to our bilateral negotiations, so we really want to show and speed up the whole process to be in a position to start as soon as possible,” he said.

The signing of the MOU was witnessed by Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge, Minister within the Ministry of Public Health Karen Cummings along with GPHC chief executive officer, Patrick West.

Meanwhile, the Austrian-based AMED Engineering Company has pledged to support Guyana in its efforts to modernise the public health and other sectors.

The company is holding discussions with the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Public Health in developing the “Lighthouse” project and Grimm said ‘the health sector is not the only technology we are ready to co-operate with you but it’s the first one.

“I call it the lighthouse project to show the public in Guyana and in Austria that a co-operation can exceed political excellent relations by far through well-functioning economic ties and relations.”

VAMED is recognised internationally as one of the leading companies in the healthcare sector. VAMED provides a complete package of services for every type of healthcare facility. The range of services provided covers the entire healthcare value chain, from project development, planning and construction to total operational, biomedical engineering and facility management.

Greenidge said Guyana has long benefitted from initiatives introduced by the Austrian government. He added however that the administration is prepared to take advantage of the advanced ideas and projects that VAMED has to offe

Posted in Announcements/Greetings, Business/Economy/Banking, Health, International, Labour, Local, News, Politics, Regional, Science/Technology0 Comments

Trinidad and Tobago observing 56th anniversary of independence

Trinidad and Tobago observing 56th anniversary of independence

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Aug 31, CMC – Trinidad and Tobago observed its 56th anniversary of political independence from Britain on Friday with the traditional military parade and differing statements from the politicians regarding the socio-economic development of the oil-rich twin island republic.

While President Paula Mae Weekes noted that independence is a work in progress she urged citizens to continue ensuring the development of the country.

“Fellow citizens, on 31 August 1962, Trinidad and Tobago shook off the reins of colonialism and dared to go it alone. To the tolling of bells, the Union Jack was lowered for the final time and the red, white and black hoisted to signal the birth of our nation.”

She said since that time Trinidad and Tobago has enjoyed a relatively stable democracy, significant economic transformation and general improvement in the quality of life of its citizens.

But she said considering the current challenges of crime and the economy, plus the island’s use of the London-based Privy Council as its final court, the world economy and global climate change, she asked how independent Trinidad and Tobago is.

“Political separation from the United Kingdom was only the first step of our long journey of self-discovery.

“Independence has never been a static notion. It implies the constant working-out of identity and purpose, sovereignty over one’s decisions and taking responsibility for one’s actions.”

In his message Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley the anniversary of independence provides citizens with another opportunity to reflect on the meaning of citizenship and the value of its national identity.

“The world has brought us news of nations gripped by civil war, anarchy and terror. In many countries people do not enjoy the freedoms we may be tempted to take for granted. That our democracy has remained intact these 56 years is no small feat.

“This deserves celebration given our status as one of the most multi-cultural societies in the western world. We have largely used our diversity as a bridge to make connections with each other. We’ve enjoyed a deep harmony that is intrinsic to our identity as nationals of this beloved country. We must guard our unity zealously. This defence is especially needed in turbulent times,” he said.

Rowley said that it is times of difficulty that the urge to retreat to narrow interests and partisan lines can become the strongest.

“But we must resist this and seek instead an agreeable guidepost. But how do we find common ground in an often polarising environment?,” he asked suggesting that the country remember the words of the first prime minister Dr. Eric Williams who said “whatever the challenge that faces you, from whatever quarter, place always first that national interest and the national cause”.

Rowley said he has no doubt that “we will do what is needed to create sustainable growth and national development. It is our responsibility as loyal citizens to ensure that our children can be proud of the decisions that we must make today”.

However, Opposition Leader, Kamla Persad Bissessar said the independence anniversary provides an opportunity “to undertake a sober, piercing assessment of our progress and the difficulties that still lie ahead.

“The question must be asked: Have we achieved the Trinidad and Tobago which the leaders of our fight for independence envisioned more than half a century ago? In answering this question, we must decide whether we wish to maintain the status quo, or determine the future that we want for our children and grandchildren.

“There is no question that our country today faces significant issues, and there appear to be no moves by the current administration to deal frontally with the problems affecting people, including escalating crime, inadequate health care, reduced opportunities for education of our young people, job losses, high cost of living, and a declining economy,” she said.

She was critical of the government’s “silence” over the decision to shut down the oil refinery at the state-owned oil company, PETROTRIN, saying that the government had “failed to articulate a plan to address the issue of the state-owned company’s debt, and the long-term impact of the restructuring exercise on Trinidad and Tobago’s economy”.

Meanwhile, Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretary General, Irwin laRocque has in a congratulatory message paid tribute to the creativity and dynamism of the people of Trinidad and Tobago as well as recognising the “significant contributions” that the country has made to the regional integration process.

“Additionally, Trinidad and Tobago, as a founding member of the Community and lead Member State on regional security and energy issues, continues to make significant contributions to Caribbean integration and to the promotion and attainment of citizen and energy security,” he said.

United States Secretary of State, Michael Pompeo, said that Washington and Port of Spain “have always enjoyed rich cross-cultural exchange, friendship, and the shared goal of building a more safe and secure region as underscored in the Caribbean 2020 strategy.

“We are grateful for the continued strong partnership as our countries work to deepen cooperation on trade, energy, and opportunity for all,” he said.

Posted in Announcements/Greetings, Business/Economy/Banking, CARICOM, Featured, International, Local, News, Politics, Regional0 Comments

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