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Lethem Airstrip. Photo: Andrew Short

Guyana to build third international airport at frontier town with Brazil

Lethem Airstrip. Photo: Andrew Short

By Ray Chickrie
Caribbean News Now contributor

GEORGETOWN, Guyana — The government of Guyana plans to secure financing to upgrade and extend the runway and build a modern terminal at the Lethem airstrip with the intention of turning the airport into a “regional hub and international airport”. Lethem is a town close to the frontier of the Brazilian state of Roraima.

When the project is completed, Guyana will have three international airports.

The government is actively seeking a US$15 million loan to finance the project, which may finally open the frontier of Guyana to human settlement and development. This is important since the capital of Guyana, and low-lying areas along the coast are frequently inundated by heavy rainfall. For this reason, there has been a push to move the capital to the Essequibo region of Guyana.

Finance Minister Winston Jordan said on Monday during his 2018 budget presentation that the upgrade of the Lethem airstrip will allow for flights originating from Brazil and other Latin American neighbours to land there.

Meanwhile, the government has allocated GY$5 billion (US$24 million) to complete the upgrading of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA), which includes the runway, rehabilitation of the arrivals terminal, and the construction of a departure terminal. The upgraded airport will be able to accommodate larger aircraft and handle an increased number of passengers, Jordan noted.

The upgrading of the Lethem airstrip to accommodate regional flights will definitely spur development of the sleepy frontier town in the hinterland of Guyana that borders Brazil.

There is no air connectivity between Guyana and Brazil despite sharing a long border. People must travel to Suriname, Panama or Miami to get to Brazil from Guyana.

The government did not disclose the length of the planned extended runway. The current runway is about 6,000 ft and can easily be extended due the favourable geography and availability of land. The length of the runway will indicate what type of aircraft will land there.

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David Davis, Theresa May, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Union

Brexit deal agreement in full: Read the report published after phase one of talks

Telegraph Reporters
The Telegraph
 
David Davis, Theresa May, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Union's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier meet at the European Commission in Brussels on Friday morning - REUTERS
 
David Davis, Theresa May, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier meet at the European Commission in Brussels on Friday morning – REUTERS

Negotiators from the European Union and UK Government have made a breakthrough in Brexit talks.

A joint report setting out progress during phase one of the divorce deal has been published. Here is the 7,200-word document in full:

Joint report from EU and UK Brexit negotiators

This report, presented jointly by the negotiators of the European Union (Union) and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK), records the progress made in the first phase of negotiations under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) on the UK’s orderly withdrawal from the Union.

Both Parties have reached agreement in principle across the following three areas under consideration in the first phase of negotiations, on which further detail is set out in this report:

  1. protecting the rights of Union citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the Union;
  2. the framework for addressing the unique circumstances in Northern Ireland;
  3. and the financial settlement.

Progress was also made in achieving agreement on aspects of other separation issues.

The positions detailed in this report form a single and coherent package. Agreement in principle has been reached on the package as a whole, as opposed to individual elements.

Under the caveat that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed, the joint commitments set out below in this joint report shall be reflected in the Withdrawal Agreement in full detail. This does not prejudge any adaptations that might be appropriate in case transitional arrangements were to be agreed in the second phase of the negotiations, and is without prejudice to discussions on the framework of the future relationship.

Citizens’ rights

The overall objective of the Withdrawal Agreement with respect to citizens’ rights is to provide reciprocal protection for Union and UK citizens, to enable the effective exercise of rights derived from Union law and based on past life choices, where those citizens have exercised free movement rights by the specified date.

To date, both Parties have reached a common understanding on the following.

The specified date should be the time of the UK’s withdrawal.

The use of Union law concepts in the citizens’ rights Part of the Withdrawal Agreement is to be interpreted in line with the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) by the specified date;

Union citizens who in accordance with Union law legally reside in the UK, and UK nationals who in accordance with Union law legally reside in an EU27 Member State by the specified date, as well as their family members as defined by Directive 2004/38/EC who are legally resident in the host State by the specified date, fall within the scope of the Withdrawal Agreement (for personal scope related to frontier workers, see paragraph 15, and for social security, see paragraph 28);

Within the scope of application of this Part of the Withdrawal Agreement and without prejudice to any special provisions therein, any discrimination on grounds of nationality will be prohibited in the host State and the State of work in respect of Union citizens and UK nationals, and their respective family members covered by the Withdrawal Agreement;

Irrespective of their nationality, the following categories of family members who were not residing in the host State on the specified date will be entitled to join a Union citizen or UK national right holder after the specified date for the life time of the right holder, on the same conditions as under current Union law:

  1. all family members as referred to in Article 2 of Directive 2004/38/EC, provided they were related to the right holder on the specified date and they continue to be so related at the point they wish to join the right holder;
  2. and children born, or legally adopted, after the specified date, whether inside or outside the host State, where:
  • the child is born to, or legally adopted by, parents who are both protected by the Withdrawal Agreement or where one parent is protected by the Withdrawal Agreement and the other is a national of the host State;
  • or the child is born to, or legally adopted by, a parent who is protected by the Withdrawal Agreement and who has sole or joint custody of the child under the applicable family law of an EU27 Member State or the UK and without prejudging the normal operation of that law, in particular as regards the best interests of the child;

The UK and EU27 Member States will facilitate entry and residence of partners in a durable relationship (Article 3(2)(b) of Directive 2004/38/EC) after the UK’s withdrawal in accordance with national legislation if the partners did not reside in the host state on the specified date, the relationship existed and was durable on the specified date and continues to exist at the point they wish to join the right holder;

The right to be joined by family members not covered by paragraphs 12 and 13 after the specified date will be subject to national law;

Those who on the specified date are working as frontier workers, as defined under Union law, fall within the scope of the Withdrawal Agreement;

The UK and EU27 Member States can require persons concerned to apply to obtain a status conferring the rights of residence as provided for by the Withdrawal Agreement and be issued with a residence document attesting to the existence of that right. Where the host State requires persons concerned to apply for a status, no status is obtained if no successful application is made, subject to paragraph 17e. The UK and EU27 Member States can also continue with the present system under which entitlement of rights under the Withdrawal Agreement may be attested by any other means of proof than a residence document;

 

Administrative procedures for applications for status will be transparent, smooth and streamlined,2 in particular:

  1. The Withdrawal Agreement will specify that the host State cannot require anything more than is strictly necessary and proportionate to determine whether the criteria have been met. The Withdrawal Agreement will contain provisions that follow a similar approach to the provisions on evidential requirements in Directive 2004/38;
  2. The host State will avoid any unnecessary administrative burdens;
  3. Application forms will be short, simple, user friendly and adjusted to the context of the Withdrawal Agreement. The host State will work with the applicants to help them prove their eligibility under the Withdrawal Agreement and to avoid any errors or omissions that may impact on the application decision. Competent authorities will give applicants the opportunity to furnish supplementary evidence or remedy any deficiencies where it appears a simple omission has taken place. A principle of evidential flexibility will apply, enabling competent authorities to exercise discretion in favour of the applicant where appropriate;
  4.  proportionate approach will be taken to those who miss the deadline for application where there is a good reason. Applications made by families at the same time will be considered together;
  5. and where an application is required to obtain status, adequate time of at least two years will be allowed to persons within the scope of the Withdrawal Agreement to submit their applications. During this time period, they will enjoy the rights conferred by the Withdrawal Agreement. Residence documents under the Withdrawal Agreement will be issued free of charge or for a charge not exceeding that imposed on nationals for the issuing of similar documents; 

Pending a final decision by the competent authorities on any application made for status under the Withdrawal Agreement, as well as a final judgment handed down in case of judicial redress sought against any rejection of such application, the citizens’ rights Part of the Withdrawal Agreement will apply to the applicant. The host State may remove applicants who submitted fraudulent or abusive applications from the territory under the conditions set out in Directive 2004/38/EC, in particular Articles 31 and 35, even before a final judgment has been handed down in case of judicial redress sought against any rejection of such application;

Decisions taken under the procedure for obtaining status under the Withdrawal Agreement will be made in accordance with the objective criteria established in the Withdrawal Agreement (i.e. no discretion, unless in favour of the applicant). There will be safeguards in the Withdrawal Agreement for a fair procedure, and decisions will be subject to the redress mechanisms and judicial controls provided in Directive 2004/38/EC;

The conditions for acquiring the right of residence under the Withdrawal Agreement are those set out in Articles 6 and 7 of Directive 2004/38/EC, including the right to change status;

The conditions for acquiring the right of permanent residence under the Withdrawal Agreement are those set out in Articles 16, 17 and 18 of Directive 2004/38/EC, with periods of lawful residence prior to the specified date included in the calculation of the conditions set out in Articles 16 and 17 of Directive 2004/38/EC;

The UK and EU27 Member States can apply more favourable national provisions in accordance with Article 37 of Directive 2004/38/EC;

In order to obtain status under the Withdrawal Agreement by application, those already holding a permanent residence document issued under Union law at the specified date will have that document converted into the new document free of charge, subject only to verification of identity, a criminality and security check and confirmation of ongoing residence;

Systematic criminality and security checks can – in the specific context of acquiring status under the Withdrawal Agreement – be carried out on all applicants for status under the Agreement and applicants can be asked to declare criminality. Any consequences arising from such checks and declarations shall be subject to the procedures in paragraphs 17 to 19;

Persons who acquired the permanent residence rights in the host State under the Withdrawal Agreement can be absent from its territory for a period not exceeding five consecutive years without losing their residence right under the Withdrawal Agreement;

Any restrictions on grounds of public policy or security related to conduct prior to the specified date of persons covered by the Withdrawal Agreement will be in accordance with Chapter VI of Directive 2004/38/EC;

Any restrictions on grounds of public policy or security related to conduct after the specified date will be in accordance with national law;

Social security coordination rules set out in Regulations (EC) No 883/2004 and (EC) No 987/2009 will apply. Social security coordination rules will cover Union citizens who on the specified date are or have been subject to UK legislation and UK nationals who are or have been subject to the legislation of an EU27 Member State, and EU27 and UK nationals within the scope of the Withdrawal Agreement by virtue of residence. Those rules will also apply, for the purposes of aggregation of periods of social security insurance, to Union and UK citizens having worked or resided in the UK or in an EU27 Member State in the past;

Rules for healthcare, including the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) scheme, will follow Regulation (EC) No 883/2004. Persons whose competent state is the UK and are in the EU27 on the specified date (and vice versa) – whether on a temporary stay or resident – continue to be eligible for healthcare reimbursement, including under the EHIC scheme, as long as that stay, residence or treatment continues;

For rights and obligations set out in Regulations (EC) No 883/2004 and (EC) No 987/2009 on the coordination of social security systems, a mechanism will be established to decide jointly on the incorporation of future amendments to those Regulations in the Withdrawal Agreement;

Equal treatment will apply within the limits of Articles 18, 45 and 49 TFEU, Article 24 of Directive 2004/38/EC and Regulation (EU) No 492/2011 including rights of workers, self-employed, students and economically inactive citizens with respect to social security, social assistance, health care, employment, self-employment and setting up and managing an undertaking, education (including higher education) and training, social and tax advantages;

Decisions on recognition of qualifications granted to persons covered by the scope of the Withdrawal Agreement before the specified date in the host State and, for frontier workers, the State of work (either the UK or an EU27 Member State) under Title III of Directive 2005/36/EC (recognition of professional qualifications where the person concerned was exercising the freedom of establishment), Article 10 of Directive 98/5/EC (lawyers who gained admission to the host State profession and are allowed to practise under the host State title alongside their home State title) and Article 14 of Directive 2006/43/EC (approved statutory auditors) will be grandfathered. Recognition procedures under these Directives that are ongoing on the specified date, in respect of the persons covered, will be completed under Union law and will be grandfathered.

Legal effects of the citizens’ rights part

It is of paramount importance to both Parties to give as much certainty as possible to UK citizens living in the EU and EU citizens living in the UK about their future rights. The Parties have therefore reached agreement on the following specific set of arrangements to implement and enforce the citizens’ rights Part of the agreement.

Both Parties agree that the Withdrawal Agreement should provide for the legal effects of the citizens’ rights Part both in the UK and in the Union. UK domestic legislation should also be enacted to this effect.

The provision in the Agreement should enable citizens to rely directly on their rights as set out in the citizens’ rights Part of the Agreement and should specify that inconsistent or incompatible rules and provisions will be disapplied. 

The UK Government will bring forward a Bill, the Withdrawal Agreement & Implementation Bill, specifically to implement the Agreement. This Bill will make express reference to the Agreement and will fully incorporate the citizens’ rights Part into UK law. Once this Bill has been adopted, the provisions of the citizens’ rights Part will have effect in primary legislation and will prevail over inconsistent or incompatible legislation, unless Parliament expressly repeals this Act in future. The Withdrawal Agreement will be binding upon the institutions of the Union and on its Member States from its entry into force pursuant to Article 216(2) TFEU.

Consistent interpretation of the citizens’ rights part

The Agreement establishes rights for both UK citizens living in the EU and EU citizens in the UK. To protect those rights and give citizens legal certainty, a consistent interpretation and application of the citizens’ rights Part is in the interest of both Parties to the Agreement and therefore appropriate mechanisms should be established to ensure this.

This Part of the Agreement establishes rights for citizens following on from those established in Union law during the UK’s membership of the European Union; the CJEU is the ultimate arbiter of the interpretation of Union law. In the context of the application or interpretation of those rights, UK courts shall therefore have due regard to relevant decisions of the CJEU after the specified date. The Agreement should also establish a mechanism enabling UK courts or tribunals to decide, having had due regard to whether relevant case-law exists, to ask the CJEU questions of interpretation of those rights where they consider that a CJEU ruling on the question is necessary for the UK court or tribunal to be able to give judgment in a case before it. This mechanism should be available for UK courts or tribunals for litigation brought within 8 years from the date of application of the citizens’ rights Part.

Consistent interpretation of the citizens’ rights Part should further be supported and facilitated by an exchange of case law between the courts and regular judicial dialogue. In the same vein, it is envisaged to give the UK Government and the European Commission the right to intervene in relevant cases before the CJEU and before UK courts and tribunals respectively.

The implementation and application of the citizens’ rights Part will be monitored in the Union by the Commission acting in conformity with the Union Treaties. In the UK, this role will be fulfilled by an independent national authority; its scope and functions, including its role in acting on citizens’ complaints, will be discussed between the parties in the next phase of the negotiations and reflected in the Withdrawal Agreement. There should be regular exchange of information between the UK Government and the Commission.

The approach agreed in the context of the citizens’ rights Part of the Withdrawal Agreement reflects both Parties’ desire to give those citizens certainty. It in no way prejudges discussions on other elements of the Withdrawal Agreement, including governance, other separation issues or any possible transitional arrangements, nor discussions on the future relationship.

Ireland and Northern Ireland

Both Parties affirm that the achievements, benefits and commitments of the peace process will remain of paramount importance to peace, stability and reconciliation. They agree that the Good Friday or Belfast Agreement reached on 10 April 1998 by the United Kingdom Government, the Irish Government and the other participants in the multi-party negotiations (the ‘1998 Agreement’) must be protected in all its parts, and that this extends to the practical application of the 1998 Agreement on the island of Ireland and to the totality of the relationships set out in the Agreement.

The United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union presents a significant and unique challenge in relation to the island of Ireland. The United Kingdom recalls its commitment to protecting the operation of the 1998 Agreement, including its subsequent implementation agreements and arrangements, and to the effective operation of each of the institutions and bodies established under them. The United Kingdom also recalls its commitment to the avoidance of a hard border, including any physical infrastructure or related checks and controls.

Both Parties recognise the need to respect the provisions of the 1998 Agreement regarding the constitutional status of Northern Ireland and the principle of consent. The commitments set out in this joint report are and must remain fully consistent with these provisions. The United Kingdom continues to respect and support fully Northern Ireland’s position as an integral part of the United Kingdom, consistent with the principle of consent.

The United Kingdom respects Ireland’s ongoing membership of the European Union and all of the corresponding rights and obligations that entails, in particular Ireland’s place in the Internal Market and the Customs Union. The United Kingdom also recalls its commitment to preserving the integrity of its internal market and Northern Ireland’s place within it, as the United Kingdom leaves the European Union’s Internal Market and Customs Union.

The commitments and principles outlined in this joint report will not pre-determine the outcome of wider discussions on the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom and are, as necessary, specific to the unique circumstances on the island of Ireland. They are made and must be upheld in all circumstances, irrespective of the nature of any future agreement between the European Union and United Kingdom.

Cooperation between Ireland and Northern Ireland is a central part of the 1998 Agreement and is essential for achieving reconciliation and the normalisation of relationships on the island of Ireland. In this regard, both Parties recall the roles, functions and safeguards of the Northern Ireland Executive, the Northern Ireland Assembly, and the North-South Ministerial Council (including its cross-community provisions) as set out in the 1998 Agreement. The two Parties have carried out a mapping exercise, which shows that North-South cooperation relies to a significant extent on a common European Union legal and policy framework. Therefore, the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union gives rise to substantial challenges to the maintenance and development of North-South cooperation.

The United Kingdom remains committed to protecting and supporting continued North-South and East-West cooperation across the full range of political, economic, security, societal and agricultural contexts and frameworks of cooperation, including the continued operation of the North-South implementation bodies.

The United Kingdom remains committed to protecting North-South cooperation and to its guarantee of avoiding a hard border. Any future arrangements must be compatible with these overarching requirements. The United Kingdom’s intention is to achieve these objectives through the overall EU-UK relationship. Should this not be possible, the United Kingdom will propose specific solutions to address the unique circumstances of the island of Ireland. In the absence of agreed solutions, the United Kingdom will maintain full alignment with those rules of the Internal Market and the Customs Union which, now or in the future, support North-South cooperation, the allisland economy and the protection of the 1998 Agreement.

In the absence of agreed solutions, as set out in the previous paragraph, the United Kingdom will ensure that no new regulatory barriers develop between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom, unless, consistent with the 1998 Agreement, the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly agree that distinct arrangements are appropriate for Northern Ireland. In all circumstances, the United Kingdom will continue to ensure the same unfettered access for Northern Ireland’s businesses to the whole of the United Kingdom internal market.

Both Parties will establish mechanisms to ensure the implementation and oversight of any specific arrangement to safeguard the integrity of the EU Internal Market and the Customs Union.

Both Parties acknowledge that the 1998 Agreement recognises the birth right of all the people of Northern Ireland to choose to be Irish or British or both and be accepted as such. The people of Northern Ireland who are Irish citizens will continue to enjoy rights as EU citizens, including where they reside in Northern Ireland. Both Parties therefore agree that the Withdrawal Agreement should respect and be without prejudice to the rights, opportunities and identity that come with European Union citizenship for such people and, in the next phase of negotiations, will examine arrangements required to give effect to the ongoing exercise of, and access to, their EU rights, opportunities and benefits.

The 1998 Agreement also includes important provisions on Rights, Safeguards and Equality of Opportunity for which EU law and practice has provided a supporting framework in Northern Ireland and across the island of Ireland. The United Kingdom commits to ensuring that no diminution of rights is caused by its departure from the European Union, including in the area of protection against forms of discrimination enshrined in EU law. The United Kingdom commits to facilitating the related work of the institutions and bodies, established by the 1998 Agreement, in upholding human rights and equality standards.

Both Parties recognise that the United Kingdom and Ireland may continue to make arrangements between themselves relating to the movement of persons between their territories (Common Travel Area), while fully respecting the rights of natural persons conferred by Union law. The United Kingdom confirms and accepts that the Common Travel Area and associated rights and privileges can continue to operate without affecting Ireland’s obligations under Union law, in particular with respect to free movement for EU citizens.

Both Parties will honour their commitments to the PEACE and INTERREG funding programmes under the current multi-annual financial framework. Possibilities for future support will be examined favourably.

Given the specific nature of issues related to Ireland and Northern Ireland, and on the basis of the principles and commitments set out above, both Parties agree that in the next phase work will continue in a distinct strand of the negotiations on the detailed arrangements required to give them effect. Such work will also address issues arising from Ireland’s unique geographic situation, including the transit of goods (to and from Ireland via the United Kingdom), in line with the approach established by the European Council Guidelines of 29 April 2017.

Financial settlement

Both Parties have agreed a methodology for the financial settlement.

This methodology consists of:

  1. a list of components;
  2. a set of principles for calculating the value of the financial settlement and payment modalities;
  3. arrangements for continued participation of the UK in the programmes of the current Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) until their closure;
  4. and financial and related arrangements for the European Investment Bank, the European Central Bank, European Union trust funds, the Facility for Refugees in Turkey, Council agencies and also the European Development Fund.

Components of the settlement

UK participation in Union annual budgets to 2020

The UK will contribute to, and participate in, the implementation of the Union annual budgets for the years 2019 and 2020 as if it had remained in the Union (including revenue adjustments ), on the basis of the applicable Union legal provisions including the Own Resources legislation. By derogation, any amendments to the Multiannual Financial Framework Regulation or Own Resources Decision adopted after the date of withdrawal, having an impact on the UK’s financial obligations, will not apply to the UK.

The normal process of annual revenue adjustment in respect of the year 2020 will be completed in accordance with the Own Resources Decision and the other relevant Union provisions. Amounts to be returned to, or returned by, the UK will be calculated as if the UK had remained in the Union. The UK will also participate in the surplus exercise with respect to 2020. In the second phase of negotiations, some simplification of the revenue adjustment procedure including time limitation could be agreed between the UK and the Union.

Outstanding commitments at the end of 2020 – Reste à liquider (RAL)

The UK will contribute its share of the financing of the budgetary commitments outstanding at 31 December 2020 (RAL).

Liabilities, contingent liabilities and corresponding assets

The UK will contribute its share of the financing of the Union’s liabilities incurred before 31 December 2020 except for liabilities with corresponding assets and any assets and liabilities which are related to the operation of the budget and the Own Resources Decision.

The UK will remain liable for its share of the Union’s contingent liabilities as established at the date of withdrawal. For those related to guarantees given by the Union budget to support financial operations (e.g. back-to-back loans for financial assistance, financial operations managed by the EIB such as EFSI or the external lending mandate, financial operations managed by other financial institutions, Union budgetary financial instruments), the UK liability will be limited to decisions on each financial operation adopted prior to the date of withdrawal. By derogation, for contingent liabilities related to legal cases as a result of participation in the budget, programmes and policies, the cut-off date will be 31 December 20208 . In the event of triggering of the Union contingent liabilities for which the UK is liable, the UK will receive its share of any subsequent recoveries.

As the provisioning needs for the financial operations associated with these contingent liabilities decline, the UK share of the paid-in guarantees constituted from the budget until the end of 2020 will be returned to the UK, provided that it has not been used for covering losses on the underlying financial operations, as well as any gains from these financial operations to be returned to all Member States, even if such funds would be recommitted.

Similarly, as the financial operations supported by the net asset of the European Coal and Steel Community in liquidation and of the European Investment Fund decided before the withdrawal date, mature, the UK will receive its share.

Union assets relating to Union space programmes (EGNOS, Galileo & Copernicus) are not part of the financial settlement. The UK’s past contribution to the financing of space assets could be discussed in the context of possible future access to the services offered.

Principles for calculating the value of the financial settlement

The implementation of the agreed methodology and the schedule of payments will be based on the following principles:

  1. The UK will not finance any commitments that do not require funding from Member States, and will receive a share of any financial benefits that would have fallen to it had it remained a Member State. In particular, the value of the RAL, as audited by the European Court of Auditors, will be adjusted to take into account the actual implementation of the Union’s commitments, taking into account decommitments and assigned revenue. The UK opt-outs leading to non-participation in Union programmes existing at the date of withdrawal will continue to apply in respect of the financial settlement.
  2. Except for the UK payments relating to UK participation to Union annual budgets to 2020 as set out in paragraphs 59 and 60, the UK share in relation with the Union budget will be a percentage calculated as the ratio between the own resources made available by the UK from the year 2014 to 2020 and the own resources made available by all Member States, including the UK, during the same period.
  3. Payments arising from the financial settlement will become due as if the UK had remained a Member State. In particular, the UK will not be required to incur expenditures earlier than would be the case had it remained a Member State unless agreed by both sides.9 It may be appropriate for the UK and the Union to agree on a simplified procedure for settling some elements of the payment schedule in the second phase of negotiations. Such a procedure should be based on an agreed forecast and, where appropriate, provision for subsequent review and correction.

The financial settlement will be drawn up and paid in euro.

Data for the calculation of UK obligations will be drawn up from publicly available sources where possible, and audited by the European Court of Auditors. Additional information necessary for the calculation of the UK’s share of Union obligations will be transmitted to the UK. The Union will provide the UK with the management and accounting information necessary to verify the components of the financial settlement in a timely manner.

The second phase of the negotiations will address the practical modalities for implementing the agreed methodology and the schedule of payments.

UK participation in programmes of the MFF 2014-2020

Following withdrawal from the Union, the UK will continue to participate in the Union programmes financed by the MFF 2014-202010 until their closure (excluding participation in financial operations which give rise to a contingent liability for which the UK is not liable as from the date of withdrawal). Entities located in the UK will be entitled to participate in such programmes. Participation in Union programmes will require the UK and UK beneficiaries to respect all relevant Union legal provisions including co-financing. Accordingly, the eligibility to apply to participate in Union programmes and Union funding for UK participants and projects will be unaffected by the UK’s withdrawal from the Union for the entire lifetime of such projects.

In the second phase of negotiations it could be agreed that some rules related to Union programmes that would be considered as not relevant in relation to a departing Member State would not apply. As part of the second phase of negotiations, the Union and the UK could also decide to agree to simplified procedures so as to avoid unnecessary administrative burdens extending well beyond the end of the current multiannual financial framework, provided that they respect the sound financial management of the Union budget and do not result in discrimination in favour of the UK or UK beneficiaries. The UK and the Union could also agree on administrative procedures to facilitate the management of specific programmes.

The UK states that it may wish to participate in some Union budgetary programmes of the new MFF post-2020 as a non-Member State.

Other components of the settlement – Union bodies and funds related to Union policies

European Investment Bank (EIB)

The financial settlement should not disrupt the operational functioning of the EIB as a result of the UK withdrawal in relation to the stock of operations (i.e. loans and other financial instruments) at that point.

In this context, the UK will provide a guarantee for an amount equal to its callable capital on the day of withdrawal. This guarantee will be decreased in line with the amortisation of the stock of EIB operations at the date of withdrawal, starting on the date on which the outstanding stock reaches an amount equal to the total subscribed capital on the date of withdrawal and ending on the date it equals the total paid-in capital on the date of withdrawal, both as defined in the EIB statute.

The UK share of the paid-in capital will be reimbursed in twelve annual instalments starting at the end of 201911. The UK remains liable for the reimbursed amount of paid-in capital until the outstanding stock of EIB operations equals the total paid-in capital on the date of withdrawal, at which point the liability will start to be amortised in line with the remaining non-amortised operations.

Apart from these reimbursements, the EIB will not make any other payment, return or remuneration on account of the withdrawal of the UK from the EIB or on account of the provision by the UK of a guarantee.

Any call to the callable guarantee or the paid-in (cash or guarantee) will be “paripassu” with calls on or payments made by the Member States provided that it is used for covering operations at the withdrawal date or for covering risks (such as ALM (Asset-Liability management) risks or operational risks) attributable to the stock of operations at the date of withdrawal. For other such risks not associated with specific loans and not attributable to the stock of operations built after the date of withdrawal, the UK responsibility will be proportional to the ratio between the stock of outstanding operations and the total amount of operations at the date of the event.

The UK will maintain the EIB’s privileges and immunities under Protocols 5 and 7 annexed to the Treaties throughout the amortisation of the EIB’s stock of operations at the date of withdrawal.

The UK considers that there could be mutual benefit from a continuing arrangement between the UK and the EIB. The UK wishes to explore these possible arrangements in the second phase of the negotiations.

After the date of withdrawal, UK projects will not be eligible for new operations from the EIB reserved for Member States, including those under Union mandates.

European Central Bank (ECB)

The paid-in capital of the UK in the ECB will be reimbursed to the Bank of England (BoE) after the date of withdrawal. Modalities and other practical arrangements will be established by the ECB Governing Council following the rules of the Treaties and its Protocol 4.

Facility for Refugees in Turkey, European Union trust funds

The UK will honour the commitments it made before withdrawal for participating in the Facility for Refugees in Turkey and the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for stability and addressing root causes of irregular migration and displaced persons in Africa. The existing modalities of payments will be maintained unless otherwise agreed in the second phase.

European Development Fund (EDF)

The UK will remain party to the European Development Fund (EDF) which is governed by a separate international agreement and is outside the Union budget until the closure of the 11th EDF. The UK will honour its share of the total commitments made under this EDF and the payments related to its share of the outstanding commitments made under previous EDFs. The existing modalities of payments will be maintained unless otherwise agreed in the second phase.

The UK share of the Investment Facility of the EDF from successive EDF periods will be returned to the UK as the investment matures. Unless agreed otherwise, the UK’s capital share will not be recommitted beyond the end of the 11th EDF commitment period or rolled over into subsequent periods. Reflecting the ongoing commitment in relation to the EDF, the UK and the Union will agree on governance arrangements in the second phase, that take into account the continued participation of the UK in the 11th EDF, that the EDF falls under a separate international agreement and the UK’s withdrawal from the Union.

The Commission welcomes the UK Government’s offer to discuss with Union Agencies located in London how they might facilitate their relocation, in particular as regards reducing the withdrawal costs.

Other separation issues

In the negotiations to date, both Parties have engaged in thorough discussion of the other separation issues in scope in this phase. These discussions have enabled good progress in identifying areas of convergence and divergence. The below text records the progress made in achieving agreement on a number of issues. There remain areas where further discussions will be required to reach agreement during the next phase of negotiations.

The UK and the Commission have both proposed further issues for consideration in this phase. However, where there was not mutual agreement that an issue should be discussed in this phase of the negotiations, it has been agreed to return to it later.

On Euratom-related (nuclear specific) issues both Parties have agreed principles for addressing the key separation issues relating to the UK’s withdrawal from Euratom. This includes agreement that the UK will be responsible for international nuclear safeguards in the UK and is committed to a future regime that provides coverage and effectiveness equivalent to existing Euratom arrangements. Both sides have also agreed the principles of ownership for special fissile material (save for material held in the UK by EU27 entities) and responsibility for spent fuel and radioactive waste.

On ensuring continuity in the availability of goods placed on the market under Union law before withdrawal both Parties recognise the need to provide legal certainty and minimise disruption to business and consumers. Both Parties have agreed the principles that the goods placed on the market under Union law before withdrawal may freely circulate on the markets of the UK and the Union with no need for product modifications or re-labelling; be put into service where provided in Union law, and that the goods concerned should be subject to continued oversight.

On cooperation in civil and commercial matters there is a need to provide legal certainty and clarity. There is general consensus between both Parties that Union rules on conflict of laws should continue to apply to contracts before the withdrawal date and non-contractual obligations where an event causing damage occurred before the withdrawal date. There was also agreement to provide legal certainty as to the circumstances under which Union law on jurisdiction, recognition and enforcement of judgements will continue to apply, and that judicial cooperation procedures should be finalised.

On police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters there is a need to provide legal certainty and clarity. Both Parties broadly agree on the principle that all structured and formalised cooperation procedures ongoing on withdrawal date that have passed a certain threshold (to be defined) should be completed under Union law.

On ongoing Union judicial procedures, both Parties have agreed that the CJEU should remain competent for UK judicial procedures registered at the CJEU on the date of withdrawal, and that those procedures should continue through to a binding judgment.

On ongoing Union administrative proceedings both Parties have deepened their understanding of the respective positions, and explored some areas, such as competition, state aid and examinations of the Community Plant Variety Office.

On issues relating to the functioning of the Union institutions, agencies and bodies, both Parties agree that an arrangement which closely mirrors Union privileges and immunities should remain applicable to activities that took place before withdrawal and as regards new activities foreseen in the Withdrawal Agreement; that both sides continue to ensure compliance with obligations of professional secrecy; and that classified information and other documents obtained by both sides whilst the UK was a Member State retain the same level of protection as before withdrawal.

This report is put forward with a view to the meeting of the European Council (Article 50) of 14 and 15 December 2017. It is also agreed by the UK on the condition of an overall agreement under Article 50 on the UK’s withdrawal, taking into account the framework for the future relationship, including an agreement as early as possible in 2018 on transitional arrangements.

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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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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.

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De Ole Dawg – Part 26: 2017 -DfID, MNI and moving to economic breakthrough

De Ole Dawg – Part 26: 2017 -DfID, MNI and moving to economic breakthrough

How can we solve the “golden elephants next” problem?

BRADES, Montserrat– We continue to express thanks to the people and government of the UK for support since 1995 – 98. However, given the persistent plight of Montserrat, we clearly need to focus on removing key barriers to economic breakthrough.

Now, due to the legally binding force of the UN Charter Article 73 (and with our longstanding Britishness as another factor) the UK has a policy that the “reasonable” assistance (or sometimes, “development”) needs of Overseas Territories have “a first call” on the UK aid budget. It is as a result of this that when in 2012 DfID reported on its work with Montserrat and other OT’s,[1] it stated:

“The British Government remains firmly committed to meeting the reasonable assistance needs of the aided Territories as a first call on the aid budget. At the same time, consistent with the vision of flourishing communities, DFID is striving to support interventions that will deliver greater financial independence, where options exist to achieve this [p. 2.] . . . .  [W]here conditions are right, we will make strategic investments  in the aided Territories to enable private sector-driven economic growth. These investments will be made where we can see the real prospect of self-sufficiency being achieved in due course and savings for the British Government through the reduction or elimination of dependency on UK aid. We expect the Territories, for their part, to help develop their financial management capacity so that they can meet their budgetary obligations and reduce their reliance on subsidies from the UK taxpayer.  [p. 5.]”

Of course, such words have to be read quite carefully, to see what they really mean; not just what they may appear to mean at first glance.  For instance, reasonable investments in “catalytic” economic initiatives or in health, education and welfare cannot fairly be dismissed as “making a noise and a row” in order to get “golden elephants next.”  That ghost from twenty years ago needs to be properly and permanently exorcised.

As well, DfID’s words need to be compared with the underlying legal requirements of the UN Charter Article 73. For, strictly, the UK is bound to “ensure” economic, political, social and educational advancement, and it must “promote” constructive measures of development. Such a comparison instantly reveals a gap: the UN’s priority is ensuring development, but DfID’s language suggests a gap between “assistance” on one hand and support for strategic development initiatives towards self-sufficiency or advancement on the other.  Also, there is no certainty that the reasonable cost of “catalytic” aid projects that promote development will always be cheaper than the net present value of slow-drip support budgetary assistance “forever.” But, needlessly reducing a people to endlessly having to beg for hand-outs from year to year – when there is a reasonable alternative that does not cost hugely more – just does not seem right.  That is, Mr Rhys-Burris’ words may be all too apt: “unimaginative, grudging and tardy.”

Especially, when the sweat equity of two hundred years of unpaid plantation slave labour under the lash should also be put into the reckoning. Unpaid labour that (as historian and Trinidad Prime Minister Eric Williams long since pointed out) was a significant source of the funds that energised the UK’s industrial revolution. Plus, there are nearly two hundred more years of interest on the value as at August 1st 1834.  (But, there is no need to go into a futile and polarising debate over reparations and the like.  We just need to reckon that this is not simply a cold, clean financial calculation where the only relevant interest is what brings “reasonable” benefits to Montserrat AND saves money for UK taxpayers. Let’s just say: history written in tears and blood carries sobering weight on this matter.)

Now, too, of the three OT’s on year-to-year budgetary support, Pitcairn – home of the descendants of the mutiny on the Bounty – is one of the most isolated places in the world.  Perhaps fifty or sixty people live there on any given day and it has no hopes for moving towards self-sufficiency.  But, there is still an Article 73 obligation of support towards their political, social, educational and economic progress. 

Likewise, in 2012 DfID held up the £200+ million St Helena Airport as a shining example of how a major investment could be transforming, and so Montserrat by implication should go and do likewise. Especially in terms of fixing governance, financial management and technical capacity so that economy-transforming projects could go ahead. Since then, the once shining example has been tarnished by a media scandal over a gusty runway that seemed to be a failure; however, it turns out that the Brazilian firm Embraer makes suitable aircraft and regular commercial flights have now begun.  Also, St Helena has just signed a MoU with the South Atlantic Exchange cable people, funded through the European Union. By 2020 it is to have Fibre Optic access to an intercontinental cable connecting South Africa, Brazil and the USA.

 Where, too, wouldn’t it be more reasonable to compare the £4.94 million Montserrat Fibre Optic Cable project to the ongoing billion-pound effort to roll out superfast broadband to remote UK communities? Rather than, coldly calculating what some private entity or another donor agency may or may not be willing to put up?

Similarly, we need to factor in signaling. For, at global level, available financial capital looking for opportunities greatly exceeds what any given project or organisation can absorb. So, if capital is not knocking on your door, that is itself a strong sign that there are barriers there that would deter potential investors.  So, let us ask: if Montserrat lacks key catalytic infrastructure (in the main, due to impacts of the volcano disaster) and across twenty-plus years our chief development partner has consistently declined to make a strong vote of confidence in our future, what message does that send to the potential investor? What additional burdens would that place on a potential project?

The too often overlooked DfID 2012 MDC Business Case may therefore have something we need to heed:

“The principal development challenges facing Montserrat since the eruptions are: a persistent budget deficit, the high costs of access, severe human capital deficits, a demand-deficient local economy and high energy costs . . . . The base of local business comprises only 150-200 firms, mostly micro-enterprises servicing the small local market. Foreign direct investment has dried up completely and there are only a handful of local firms capable of trading in export markets. [p. 3] . . . . The principal barrier to economic growth and development on the island is poor physical access. This is particularly the case for sea access [p. 4] . . . . Why UK finance is required Montserrat’s OT status precludes access to other international donor support. GoM cannot secure funding from any other source. [p. 6 ]”

This brings us full circle to the February 2011 visit by the then Secretary of State for International Development. The way forward, is credibly the same almost six years later: “the UK would provide catalytic investments and technical support and in return GoM would implement a programme of reforms that would create the appropriate enabling environment for private sector led growth and reduce Montserrat’s financial dependence on the UK.”  However, since then – for various reasons –  these catalytic investments in key infrastructure have not gone through. Indeed, the one that seemed to have finally broken through (fibre optic cable) has now been rolled back. 

Perhaps, one of our key challenges is an unwelcome truth: some ghosts from twenty years…! ago! need to be faced together and permanently exorcised.

[1]           See https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/67426/DFID-work-overseas-territories.pdf

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Newsletter

The Montserrat Reporter - August 18, 2017

https://indd.adobe.com/view/fefbe432-457e-4ac8-8976-c4a380014263

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