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Economic Growth Strategy

De Ole Dawg – Part 13: Montserrat and the politics of sound progress

How can we move beyond the politics of polarisation (and even of slander) to wholesome, consensus-based, sound policy-making and effective execution?

BRADES, Montserrat – Going forward, we need a consensus vision of how we will build a sound, resilient, inclusive, wholesome, prosperous future as a nation.  For, it is plain that more and more, we can and must become:

A healthy and wholesome Montserrat,
founded upon a thriving modern economy
with a friendly, vibrant community,
in which all of our people
through enterprise and initiative,
can fulfill their hopes
in a truly democratic and God-fearing society

. . . and it is even obvious that if we are to do so, we must prioritise the five SDP goals that we also find in our Cabinet-approved policy agenda:

  1. Prudent Economic Management
  2. Sound Human Development

III.        Robust Environmental Management and Disaster Mitigation

  1. Good Governance
  2. A Sustainable Population

To that end, the five breakthrough initiatives announced in the 2018/19 Budget would mark an excellent start. As announced:

“[I] Port Development – signed Financing Agreement . . . with the CDB, estimated at the current exchange rate to be around EC$ 54.5 million.

[II] European Development Fund (EDF) – signed Financing Agreement with the EU . . . estimated at the current exchange rate to be around EC$60 million . . . [to] support the transition towards reliable, affordable and renewable solar energy which will reduce usage of fossil fuels and will enhance Montserrat’s tourism offer. This already adds up to EC$114.5 millions in our transformational projects kitty.]

[III] The Subsea Fibre Optic Cable project[1] – . . . This project will provide a secure and fast data communication link to the Island increasing the resiliency of the island with regard to the threat from hurricanes. [Given the £5 million estimate, that’s another EC$ 17 million to go in the kitty.]

[IV] Geothermal Energy Development – progressing well, with several expressions of interest and . . . site visits.

[V] Economic Growth Strategy and Delivery Plan[2] – now delivered giving us the blueprint to create sustainable and inclusive economic growth for all Montserratians.”

Such hopes and targets are a logical point of departure for building a politics of  wholesome, consensus-based, sound policy-making and effective execution.  It is therefore a strong symptom of what has gone wrong, that we so seldom hear reference to these unifying themes in our political debates, in the media (social), on the streets or even in the Legislative Assembly. Instead the tone and substance of what we commonly hear is the politics of polarisation, manipulation based on half-truths or even sometimes outright falsehoods that exploit the public’s ignorance.

And, there is a longstanding assumption that “Montserrat people don’t read,” also, we hear that “dem belly long but dem memory short.”  (Of course, the first feeds the second; that’s why our national newspaper is so vital as the people’s college and as our national, collective memory.)

Now too, for over twenty years we have been a traumatised nation due to the devastating impact of the volcano crisis. Consequently, many of us suffer undiagnosed, untreated post traumatic stress disorder, with linked survivor guilt and pent up rage due to unresolved loss as well as polarised personal and family relationships. There is also a deep longing to make some sense out of an overwhelming, deeply confusing, largely unexplained calamity, which obviously opens the door to those who can provide a rhetoric of targets for projecting guilt, blame and rage. 

However, that is a blunder. We need look no further than the story of too many radical revolutions over the past century to see how this invites the politics of envy, scapegoating and power-hungry, fundamentally lawless, ruthless selfish ambition. Names like Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, and many others come to mind. Where, the ghosts of over a hundred million victims of such radical dictatorships moan out a grim warning to a world that seems to have by and large forgotten. 

Of course, that very extremism tends to make that sad history seem to be something that “could never happen here.” But in fact, there are milder forms of political messianism that are also ruinous. We should therefore be extremely wary of any politician or ideology that subtly suggests that they have cornered the market on political virtue, so that those who hold other views are habitually caricatured as ignorant, stupid, insane, incompetent, corrupt, racist, oppressive or wicked. 

The spirit of accusation is satanically destructive.

We must then be doubly concerned if we see the suggestion that the movement of rescue is led by political and economic geniuses who will almost magically deliver instant success, triumph over those who have conspired to oppress the people and quick, lasting prosperity.  For, we can be sure that if there were easy, ready- to- hand solutions to our troubles, they would have long since been successfully applied.

In short, a key fallacy in messianistic politics is that polarisation through the targeting of scapegoats is being substituted for the unwelcome lessons of sound economics:

  • growth and prosperity require long-term investments that transform the productive base;
  • a nation has to continually build and renew its knowledge, skills and productive technologies;
  • artificial consumption and construction booms are unsustainable and lead to collapse. Where also,
  • to feed sustained accelerated growth, a country has to win and hold sustained advantages in key international markets.

That requires building a sound generation-length growth and development strategy that continually shifts to ever more skilled, knowledge-driven highly productive services. For instance, that is how resource poor countries like Japan and Switzerland or Singapore have moved ahead. 

(We will need to grow at rates averaging 5 – 7% for twenty years to recover from our post-volcano plight. And we cannot put all our eggs in the tourism basket, or it will become the new king sugar or king cotton.)

So, we have a major clue: tone and focus tell. That is, politicians and pundits who by and large ignore our policy agenda or the above themes and emphasise the politics of projecting blame while using rhetoric calculated to undermine investor confidence are manifestly unsound. 

Instead, we need to be hearing how we can come together as a community to build and carry out a national policy consensus, how we can build our collective knowledge, skills and capability, how we can partner with sound (not dodgy) investors, how we can put in place catalytic infrastructure that opens up room for growth, how we can move beyond consumption and construction to value-added services.  How, we can build a culture of enterprise, thrift, prudence and productivity. How, we can work with development and aid partners to achieve sound, lasting development, inclusive growth and enduring prosperity. And such like.

In short, our tone and focus of political debate have to shift. One tool for that is the recently discussed Economic Growth Strategy:

Let us learn lessons, let us recognise that we must change, let us have a new conversation about transformation, growth and lasting, sound, sustainable development.  END

[1]           See TMR: https://www.themontserratreporter.com/de-ole-dawg-part-232017-the-fibre-optic-cable-project-and-development-aid-to-montserrat/

[2]           See GoM: http://www.gov.ms/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Growth-Strategy-Delivery-Plan-2017-DRAFT-.pdf 

Posted in CARICOM, Columns, De Ole Dawg, International, Local0 Comments

Sugar workers to receive remainder of severance payment

Sugar workers to receive remainder of severance payment

GEORGETOWN. Guyana, Nov 1, CMC – Agriculture Minister Noel Holder says payments will be made to former sugar workers “as soon as possible” after the National Assembly Wednesday approved GUY$350 million (One Guyana dollar=US$0.004 cents) in supplementary funding.

“The monies going to GUYSUCO (Guyana Sugar Corporation) represents the final payment to be paid in severance to all sugar workers,” Holder told legislators.

Last month, President David Granger, speaking at a public meeting, had indicated that the severance would have been paid in two parts.

“One in the first half of the year and the second part in the second half of the year. You received your first part and you will get your second part in the second half of the year. Sugar workers are going to get their severance and I say so.

“We are not going to deny sugar workers one dollar of their severance pay. We are also going to work with the unions to make sure that the workers who cannot find employment on the estates are given a soft landing, that is, we will try to provide employment opportunities so that nobody has to suffer,” he told the meeting.

In February, GUYSUCO acting chief executive officer, Paul Bhim, said then that 1,400 ex-employees had received their full severance, with the remainder of them awaiting the remaining 50 per cent.

About 3,700 employees were issued with severance letters and the government had approved the partial payment of the severance, but there was an adjustment made, and workers, due GUY$500,000, (One Guyana dollar=US$0.004 cents) or less, was paid in full.

The coalition government has said since coming to office in 2015, it has provided GUY$38 billion to the sugar industry mostly to meet wages and debt repayments.

The government has defended its policies towards the survival of the sugar industry, noting that various estates such as Albion in East Berbice Corentyne, Blairmont in West Berbice and Uitvlugt in West Demerara, were left in operation while those estates which were not profitable were closed down.

Holder also told legislators that the GUY$250 million approved for the National Drainage Irrigation Authority (NDIA) will facilitate drainage and irrigation works.

“This move is in keeping with the government’s policy for NDIA to assume responsibility for the drainage and irrigation duties that were once under the purview of GUYSUCO,” he added.

“NDIA has increased operational and maintenance cost of machinery and equipment due to extensive and unplanned works resulting from the prolonged rainy season,” he said.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, International, Labour, Local, News, Regional0 Comments

St. Vincent and the Grenadines celebrating 39th anniversary of independence

St. Vincent and the Grenadines celebrating 39th anniversary of independence

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Oct 27, CMC – St. Vincent and the Grenadines is celebrating its 39th anniversary of political independence from Britain on Saturday with Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves indicating that the country has made “modest’ economic growth over the past year.

Addressing the Military Parade here, Gonsalves said that th3e island’s diversified economy is growing and being placed on a sound footing.

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves addressing
the Military parade (CMC Photo)

“Indeed this year, our country is experiencing economic growth albeit it modest following upon marginal to modest economic growth in each of the last seven years.

“At the same time the government’s fiscal condition has improved despite the loss of substantial resources under the PetroCaribe agreement occasioned by the unwise banking and financial sanctions against Venezuela,” Gonsalves said.

PetroCaribe is an oil alliance of many Caribbean states with Venezuela to purchase oil on conditions of preferential payment. The alliance was launched on the 29th of June 2005 in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela. In 2013, PetroCaribe agreed for links with the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA), to go beyond oil and promote economic cooperation.

Gonsalves told the nation that amidst all the challenges facing the country “we have not gone to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) nor have we sold our citizenship and passport” he said in reference to the move by some Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries to lure foreign investors through the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) that allows them to get citizenship in return for making a significant contribution to the socio-economic development of their countries.

“Our passports and citizenship are not commodities for sale. We oppose such sale in principle and in practice. I so re-affirm today,” Gonsalves said.

He said that the various sectors of the economy, including the banking, and credit unions “continue to play a significant role in our country’s development.

“Current initiatives by the state sector facilitate and fuel further developmental advance. We see so in the consolidating and expansion of education, health and housing revolution,” he said, noting the new Argyle International Airport is now playing a significant role in the development of the tourism industry.

He said those who had been very critical of the airport were on the losing side “again and again and again” and that the “existing hotel stock is expanding and new hotels and apartments are currently being built”.

He also made reference to the proposed US$145 million modern cargo project and the multi-million dollar plans to re-develop the city.

In his address, Gonsalves said that during the period 2010-17, St. Vincent and the Grenadines suffered losses estimated at EC$700 million (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents) or one third of the gross domestic product (GDP) due to the impact of climate change.

“Climate change is now unfamiliar in time, type and seasonality. Unprecedented in their frequency and intensity and thus urgent beyond measure. Both the pre-existing condition of countries like ours and the immediacy of climate change have given rise to the many sided concept of small state exceptionalism as a category in the global political economy which deserves a special carve out and recognition beyond the traditional rubric hitherto of special and differential treatment,” Gonsalves added.

Meanwhile, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has extended congratulations to St. Vincent and the Grenadines with Secretary General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, saying that  “the chosen theme for this year’s festivities ‘Working together to enhance national pride’ encourages Vincentians to combine their efforts, not only to ensure a prosperous and secure future for the next generation, but also to strengthen their fraternal bonds.

“Prime Minister, the commitment of the government and People of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in promoting regional integration, particularly as it relates to the Regional agenda for transport, is most appreciated.

“This is illustrated by the dedicated efforts to ensure that the importance of transport to the sustainable development of the Community remains at the forefront”, LaRocque added.

Gonsalves is the prime minister with lead responsibility for Transportation, Maritime and Aviation in the CARICOM Quasi-Cabinet.

“CARICOM looks forward to the continued active engagement of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in strengthening the development of the Community,” the Secretary-General said.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, International, Labour, Local, News, Politics, Regional0 Comments

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Did the Education Minister claim environmental issues for teachers at MSS?

Minister of Education, Mrs. Delmaude Ryan

The Minister of Education, Mrs. Delmaude Ryan was speaking just before she declared open the Montserrat Union of Teachers Convention on Friday, October 5, at the Lookout Primary school convention.

Delivering the feature address at the Convention while expressing concern and the government’s desire to have a high number of trained teachers at the Montserrat Secondary School, which she said stood at 72% in 2016/17 and was above the average set for themselves had declined to 55% in 2017/18.

She said that the retention of teachers is a problem across the world. “This shows you the challenges all around the world in being able to retain as well as to increase the number of trained teachers in our classrooms,” she remarked.

However, she pointed out that the retention of teachers is not always about the salary. “Trained teachers overall, keeping and retaining teachers is not necessarily at times about the salary, but is the environment that is created, the support that they receive in that environment that encourages whether they want to stay or whether they want to leave,” she said.

This caused the speculation that all was not well with the conditions of work around the school, but without expanding on the issue, she concluded, “There’s a very important role that we all play in how do we work together as a team in delivering that one core essential item of education to our nation’s children.”

She then noted, “At the primary level we have 77% of teachers trained so it is at a good level comparatively to others across the world, however for Montserrat our aim is to bring that up to 100 percent trained.

Posted in Features, Kids, Local, News, Regional, Youth0 Comments

Body of school girl found three days after being reported missing

Body of school girl found three days after being reported missing

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Oct 22, CMC – A human rights and advocacy group Monday called for more protection for children as a junior government minister condemned as “cruel, inhumane and barbaric” the murder of a 14-year old secondary school student.

The authorities said that the mutilated body of 14-year-old Raven Wilson, a third form student of Ocho Rios High School in St Ann, was found in a plastic bag, metres away from her home on Sunday, three days after she had been reported missing.

“I am seriously disturbed by the killing of yet another promising young girl, whose life was cut short by cold and heartless criminals. There is simply no justification for such cruelty against our children. The level of violence being meted out against them needs to stop, because it is robbing them of their right to life,” Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Floyd Green, said in a statement.

He said that there seems to be a worrying trend in the recent spate of child murders with the perpetrators dismembering their victims.

“We want to send a clear message to these perpetrators that there will absolutely be no safe haven for them. We continue to work assiduously with the police, and will leave no stone unturned in ensuring they are brought to justice,” Green said, urging the community to come forward with any information that can assist the police with their investigations.

The human rights group, Hear The Children’s Cry is calling for the prosecution of persons involved in carrying out criminal acts on children.

In a statement condemning the murder of Wilson, the group said “we have not even gone ten months of the year and nearly 40 children have already been murdered during 2018. That is double the usual gruesome annual statistic.

The truth is, children in Jamaica are at terrible peril and are at the mercy of vicious criminals on a daily basis. They are not safe in their homes, they are not safe at school, they are in danger in their communities and on the roads, they are at horrible risk on public transportation, not to mention being vulnerable targets of paedophiles when they are online,” said the organisation’s founder Betty Ann Blaine.

She repeated an earlier call for the government to convene an Emergency Child Summit to devise a plan to protect the nation’s children.

“For two years now, Hear The Children’s Cry has been asking Prime Minister Andrew Holness to convene an Emergency Child Summit to take practical steps to protect the nation’s children and safeguard their lives. After meeting with me, the Prime Minister asked us to prepare a detailed proposal outlining the objectives and format of the Summit, which would call together all stakeholders to enact urgent solutions.

“The proposal was submitted to the Office of the Prime Minister in 2017 and yet month after month has gone by with no word from the country’s leader, despite our repeated calls for action from him,” Blaine said.

Meanwhile, the ministry said a team of first responders from the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) will visit the Ocho Rios High School to conduct counselling sessions with affected children, followed by a home visit during the course of the week.

Wilson’s death followed the killings of Shanoya Wray and Yetanya Francis, both 14, in the Corporate Area last month.

Posted in Crime, Education, International, Local, News, Regional, Youth0 Comments

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Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Columns, Features, International, Local, News, Opinions, Regional, Youth0 Comments

Man given life sentence for raping eight year-old child

Man given life sentence for raping eight year-old child

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Oct 3, CMC – A 34-year-old man was sentenced to life imprisonment after he was found guilty of raping an eight year old child three years ago.

The Court heard that David Alexander, who opted not to endure a trial and entered the guilty plea before Justice JoAnn Barlow started the case, committed the offence on February 24, 2015.

“Guilty with explanation…” the accused said, and his attorney, Clyde Forde, said that his client claimed that at the time of the incident he was drunk and cannot remember all that occurred on the day of the incident.

He offered an apology to the Court and his victim.

“He was just 31 at that time living with his brother and has no previous convictions.” Forde said, adding that his client saved the court much judicial time and pleaded with the judge to consider the factors and exercise justice with mercy.

In her letter to the Court, the young victim expressed her ongoing hurt over the incident, explaining that it was something she will never forget. The child said she thought she was about to be killed.

Before handing down her sentence, Justice Barlow said being drunk cannot be an excuse for the crime committed.

She said that the child was traumatized by the incident and had to undergo surgeries for the injuries she sustained during the heinous act.

“In this case there is no mitigating circumstance because of the damage done,” she said, adding that when consuming alcohol, a man must remain in control of his faculties and that is no excuse for causing damage, especially to that of an eight-year-old.

The judge said that while in prison, Alexander should be exposed to counselling sessions, classes for alcohol problems and use his time to reflect on what he had done.

Posted in Court, Crime, International, Kids, Local, News, Regional, Youth0 Comments

Women’s group disappointed at acquittal of police officer on kidnapping and sex charges

Women’s group disappointed at acquittal of police officer on kidnapping and sex charges

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Oct 3, CMC – The non-organisation organisation, Women Against Rape (WAR), has expressed disappointment at the decision that led to a police prosecutor accused of kidnapping and having sex with a 13 year-old child being able to walk free earlier this week.

“At age 13 there was a charge…how come now at this point in time there’s an acquittal when at age 13 the person was charged with an offence, granted that being charged with an offence does not mean that the person is guilty of an offence, so we need to look at all of those ramifications,” said WAR president Alexandrina Wong.

The girl had told the court that she no longer wanted to continue with the case against the police officer after she had spoken with her mother, counsellor and guardian.

She told Justice Keith Thom that she has forgiven the accused, and had she been in his shoes, she would have wanted to be forgiven as well.

The child, who is now a ward of the state, having been removed from her parents’ care, said she understood the seriousness of the allegations before the court which include one count of kidnapping and two counts of unlawful sexual intercourse – the latter is an offence which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Crown Counsel Shannon told the court that the girl, who is now 15 years old, had also spoken to her about the incident and the Director of Public Prosecutions, Anthony Armstrong had asked for the Directorate of Gender Affairs to be involved and to offer counselling to the teen.

As a result of the request from the teen not to proceed with the trial, the prosecution withdrew the charges, and the cop of over a decade service, walked out the court, free of all the allegations.

The police officer had been charged after the investigations had revealed that on July 26, 2016, during the Carnival celebrations that the child was working with a woman who sent her to a shop nearby.

While on the way, the officer allegedly approached the teen, whom he knew, and told her to join him in his vehicle and when she did not, he forced her inside and took her to his home. There, he allegedly engaged her in sex even though she was 13 and the age of consent is 16.

The following day, he allegedly reached out to her and she went to his home where he again, allegedly had sex with her contrary to the Sexual Offences Act which sets out the age of consent.

Wong, speaking on a radio programme here, said her organisation intends to “find out what led to this acquittal”.

Posted in Court, Crime, International, Kids, Local, News, Police, Regional, Youth0 Comments

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Montserrat hosts Leewads Mens’ 50-Over championship

The Leeward Islands Senior Cricket Team Men’s 50-Over Cricket Championship, announced by L Is Drector, Cricket Operations in July is set to start on Tuesday, September 18, 2018 in Montserrat.

Captain Burns receives his team jersey

On Wednesday evening, September 12, 2018 the Montserrat Senior Cricket Team unveiled it’s Uniform Launch for the Cricket Championship at Summer Breeze at 8.00 p.m.

This function was hailed as a very welcome and special one, with Premier Romeo, Minister of Sports Delmaude Ryan along with Communications and Works Minister Paul Lewis each giving brief remarks on the occasion.

The tournament was due to begin on Friday 14th, but due to the passage of hurricane Isaac and the the burial services of a former Montserrat opening batsman, and former Chief Minister Bertrand B. Osborne and other related circumstances, such as transportation into Montserrat of the other five competing teams, the beginning of the tournament was set to a Tuesday start.

Already the championship organisers are thanking Digicel for Partnering with the Leeward Islands Cricket Board to help execute this major project and to sell to the world that Montserrat is open for Business. At the uniform unveiling, some other support sponsors were acknowledged.

These supporting sponsors are: Digicel, Rovika, Victor’s, Montserrat Bottling Company, Amsa Sports and Summer Breeze.

Following are the names of the Montserrat 16-man squad.

Shernyl Burns (Captain)
Damion Williams (Vice Captain)
McPherson Meade (Player Coach)
Quinton Boastwain
Dalston Tuitt
Jaison Peters (Leeward Island Hurricane Franchise Player)
Kriston Murrain
Theodore Frye
Shawn Tuitt
Zawandi White
Aidan Livan
Joshua Grant
Jemuel Cabey
Damion Jacobs (Leeward Island Hurricane Franchise Player)
Tavis Harrison
Deno Baker

Kenton Weekes (Sports Therapist)

Vernon Springer, L Is Drector, Cricket Operations

Posted in De Ole Dawg, Local, Local Sports, News, Print Pages, Regional, Regional Sports, Youth0 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

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