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IDB launches call for proposals from startups in the Caribbean

IDB launches call for proposals from startups in the Caribbean

 

WASHINGTON, Jun. 20,   CMC – The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has launched a call for proposals that will reward the most disruptive ventures in Latin America and the Caribbean that are using innovation to improve lives.

The Washington-based financial institution said the selected startups will participate in Demand Solutions Chile, which will take place on November 21 in Santiago, Chile.

Demand Solutions is the IDB’s flagship innovation event that brings together “the world’s most forward-thinking minds to share creative solutions to the development challenges in Latin America and the Caribbean,” the statement said.

In this edition, the IDB said startups can participate in two thematic areas.

In the first, they must provide solutions in four categories related to the cultural and creative industries: Design with social sense: sustainable fashion, smart fashion, urban art, wearable technology; and multimedia that improves lives: videogames, digital content, audiovisual content.

The other categories are: New technologies: 3D printing, blockchain, internet of things, artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics; and export of services to global markets: production and commercialization of cultural content, export of goods and creative services.

The IDB said the 10 most innovative startups in the creative industries will be selected to participate in Demand Solutions Chile with all expenses paid for one representative per startup.

The first place will receive financial support to continue with its development, the IDB said.

Additionally, the IDB said this edition of Demand Solutions will also reward five startups that provide solutions to water and sanitation challenges in the region.

Since 2009, the IDB said along with Fundación FEMSA it was awarded the Water and Sanitation Prize for Latin America and the Caribbean “to recognize and stimulate the most innovative solutions in the water, sanitation and solid waste sectors.”

The startups interested in participating in Demand Solutions must present a solution proposal to a development challenge before July 15, the IDB said.

It said the representatives must be over 18 years old.

Winners will be notified by mail in early September 2018.

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Regional leaders to attend opening of Grenada’s new parliament building

Regional leaders to attend opening of Grenada’s new parliament building

ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada, Jun. 20, CMC -Almost 14 years after it was destroyed by the category three Hurricane Ivan in 2004, the Houses of Parliament will have a new home with the official opening of a new parliament building on Thursday.

The event will be attended by regional leaders – Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, of Trinidad and Tobago , Prime Minister Dr.Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Caricom Secretary General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque .

Local diplomats are also scheduled to attend the ceremony.

Press Secretary Kisha Alexander-Grant said that other leaders and dignitaries are expected to attend the ceremony that is being held 100 days since the New National Party returned to office following the March 13th General Elections.

The new building which is located in Mt. Wheldale is built within close proximity to the residence of the late Prime Minister Maurice Bishop. The building was constructed  with funds from the Governments of Australia, Mexico  the United Arab Emirates and Grenada.

Representatives from the donor governments are also scheduled to witness the opening which takes the form of a joint sitting of the both the Lower and Upper Houses of Parliament.

The former Parliament building called York House that was  located on Church Street was destroyed by Hurricane Ivan in 2004.

Since the devastation, Parliamentary sessions were temporarily held at the Grenada Trade Center while the offices of Parliament are housed next door in a ministerial complex.

Designed by Caribbean Office of Caribbean Architecture, the EC$23 million  (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents) ,environmentally friendly building was built by Quinnco Design and Construction.

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Barbados PM wants to deepen cooperation with sub-regional group

Barbados PM wants to deepen cooperation with sub-regional group

By Ernie Seon

CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Jun. 19, CMC – The Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley, has signaled her intention to deepen political and economic cooperation with the nine nation Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

Prime Minister Mia Mottley

In her first address outside of Barbados since assuming office, Mottley told representatives of the 65th Meeting of the OECS Authority which began its working session here Tuesday, that her administration wanted mutually beneficial solutions to critical issues such as climate change, freedom of movement and transportation challenges.

She told the gathering which included leaders of all nine member OECS states, with the exception of Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit of  Dominica who was expected later Tuesday, of the  need to resolve climate change issues, pointing to the influx of sargassum seaweed as an opportunity for economic benefit, rather than treating it as a problem that affects our coast and tourism industry.

“We have had to confront it as you do across the rest of the region, but we believe that our best efforts are when they are cooperative and to that extent our ability to harvest the sargassum weed collectively and maximize what ever economic benefits we can get from it rather than treat it as a nuisance that affects our coasts and tourism industry, is the way in which we would like to pursue discussions.”

She said that freedom of movement was another pressing concern, and finding a way forward for the regional airline LIAT.

She said from her country’s perspective, one of the troubling concerns was the inability of persons who were in-transit in Barbados for more than two hours, to clear immigration.

“It makes no sense, because it hurts the extent to which those who visit our shores are capable of contributing to our economic activity in our country.

“To that extent prior to traveling here, I have asked what are the legal obstacles preventing the movement of people who are in-transit within our air and sea ports, who are being precluded from leaving the ports, but I am yet to receive an answer that makes sense,” she told the leaders.

“If you are at a point of entry for 6 or 8 hours there is no reason to be treated as a prisoner of war within the precincts of our region,” Motley insisted.

On the issue of inter-island transportation the Barbados leader said she looks forward to engaging with the OECS leaders, ” and particularly fellow shareholders and soon to be other shareholders in the context of regional carrier, Liat.”

She however noted that she would do so, cognizant of the fact that modalities  that were relevant decades ago cannot continue to be relevant as countries enter the third decade of the 21st Century.

Motley suggested that a review of government structures was absolutely critical if the region is to ensure the viability of an airline that serves as the lifeblood of this region.

“Similarly it is time that we stopped just talking about inter-island ferry transportation and get on with establishing this vital service.

“I am aware that unless we get to the stage where we can facilitate the movement of not just people, but vehicles and cargo we will not reap the full benefit of the space we have the honour to occupy.”

She explained to facilitate such an undertaking when it comes there needed to be mutual recognition of insurance, licenses, and the equal ability for the region to see how far it is prepared to go for mutual recognition of domestic incorporation, “so as we don’t impose on citizens the additional cost and time of having to go through these exercises again, simply to facilitate free movement across the region.”

Meanwhile,  Mottley and the heads of Governments of the OECS were also meeting Tuesday  in caucus for dialogue on better ways of collaboration between Barbados and the OECS.

The agenda for the 65th Meeting includes critical areas related to climate change among them the problem of sargassum where the OECS hopes to initiate a regional approach.

“We are going to be discussing ways in which the member states can work effectively together to do clean-ups of the beaches and areas affected by sargassum but more importantly how do we turn this problem into an opportunity,” said OECS Director General Dr. Didicus Jules told journalists Monday.

He said building resilience in the Caribbean is also high on the agenda in terms of, not just infrastructure but economic, social and community resilience.

A presentation is expected by the Caribbean Climate Smart Accelerator Group which has been assisting the Caribbean in becoming the first climate smart region. During the OECS meeting, the work programme of the OECS will also be under review.

St. Lucia’s Prime Minister Allan Chastanet will hand over to incoming chairman, Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.

The OECS is made up of seven full Member States, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts Nevis, St Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines; and three Associate Member States: the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla and Martinique, all of whom are expected to be represented at the summit.

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Premier not seeking re-election at upcoming party convention

Premier not seeking re-election at upcoming party convention

TORTOLA, British Virgin Islands, Jun. 19, CMC  – Premier Dr. Orlando Smith has announced that he will not be seeking re-election as leader of his National Democratic Party (NDP) at the upcoming convention on the weekend.

Dr Orlando Smith

Smith, 73,  who made the announcement in a broadcast late Monday, said he made the decision after ‘much thought and prayer’ and after discussions with family and colleagues.

“And so, when the NDP comes together in its upcoming Convention, I will not seek nor accept the nomination to lead the party into the next election,” the premier said.

“There is so much work left to do. With this decision, I will be free to dedicate 100 per cent of my time and attention to that task….while my journey as the Premier and leader of the territory will come to a close at the end of this government’s term in office, the mission that was launched so many years ago lives on.”

The decision made by the Premier means that the only confirmed contenders to succeed him as party leader are Education Minister Myron Walwyn and Health Minister Ronnie Skelton.

During this weekend’s convention candidates will also be contesting the offices of vice president, secretary, deputy secretary, treasurer, deputy treasurer, chaplain, chairman of the youth movement, and chairperson of the women’s association.

CMC/kb/2018

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CARICOM and Cuba to strengthen relations in key areas of cooperation

CARICOM and Cuba to strengthen relations in key areas of cooperation

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Jun 14, CMC – The Cribbean Community (CARICOM)  and the government of Cuba have both pledged to continue to strenthen relations in matters related to trade and the arts.

This was the outcome of talks between CARICOM’s  Assistant Secretary General, Human and Social Development  Dr. Douglas Slater, and  Cuba’s Vice Minister  Rogelio Sierra Diaz, when they met at the CARICOM Secretariat on Wednesday.

The issues related to a Disabilities Project, the extension of Art programmes at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts in Jamaica, and trade.

In the discussions on the Disabilities Project, Slater, who spoke on behalf of CARICOM Secretary General Irwin LaRocque,  noted that a tri-lateral  Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), among the Government of Guyana, the Government of Cuba and CARICOM had already been signed.

He explained that there was a decision to implement the Project in phases and outlined that a Centre has been constructed by the Government of Guyana and a  team from Cuba is already in  Guyana working on the Project.

He said when the initial phase was completed in Guyana and there was a clear way forward, the Project would be extended to the other CARICOM Member States.

In response, Diaz said firm steps had been taken and there was a lot to be thankful for. He said it was now important to acquire the equipment needed.

In relation to the phase of the Project that would extend it to the other CARICOM Member States, he said that the CARICOM Secretary-General and staff would play a key role in achieving the goals of that phase.

Both parties agreed that there were still some details that needed to be refined between CARICOM and Guyana.

The Cuban Vice-Minister also gave the assurance that Cuba would provide support, knowledge and training, but emphasized that the project belonged to CARICOM.

Turning to the matter of the extension of programmes in the School of Art at the Edna Manley School in Jamaica, the Cuban Ambassador said the Government of Jamaica had been contacted and the areas in which Cuba could provide assistance were identified. He explained that it was being proposed that there might be some additional infrastructural requirements for the project to move forward and various options to address this challenge were being explored.

Slater expressed an interest in further engagement on the matter and also gave an assurance that the CARICOM Secretariat would engage with the Edna Manley School to explore the available options.

Assistant Secretary-General, Trade and Economic Integration, Joseph Cox who was also present, spoke about a trade and economic partnership agreement that had been regionally applied in 12 Member States and highlighted that Haiti had now expressed an interest in joining the agreement.

We have commenced our engagements with Haiti in this regard and we will have further engagements with Cuba regarding their inclusion and that should happen in the very near future”, Cox said.

In relation to a Joint Commission in which the second protocol was signed in November 2017, he advised that Member States needed to accelerate their efforts to satisfy the legal requirements to be party to the Commission.

Under the agreement, more than 300 Caribbean products would have fees removed for export to Cuba.

The Cuban Vice-Minister said he understood that there were legal protocols that would have to be addressed, but implored CARICOM not to allow them to create further delays.

The goal of the protocol is to improve trade relations between CARICOM and Cuba.

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Over thirty St. Lucians deported from US, UK and Martinique

Over thirty St. Lucians deported from US, UK and Martinique

CASTRIES, St Lucia Jun. 18,  CMC-Thirty-six S t Lucians  have been deported from the United States, the United Kingdom and Martinique since the beginning of this year.

This was disclosed on Monday by the Head of the Immigration Department, Assistant Superintendent, Sean Alexander, who said the deportations stemmed from several offences including  illegal entry, possession of drugs, going to Martinique with invalid insurance documents and overstaying the allotted time granted.

According to the Immigration official, local authorities are usually alerted when S t Lucians are being deported from places like the United States, the UK and Canada.

He said the information provided includes the date of arrival and flight details.

Alexander noted that on arrival here, the deportees are interviewed by immigration officials and members of the police Special Branch.

He said the deportees are then monitored for some time, in cases where they had a criminal conviction.

Concerning St. Lucians who have overstayed their time in another country, the police official indicated that they are not monitored unless they were convicted of a serious criminal offence in the country from which they were deported.

Alexander said that the intention is to ensure that the deportees are not engaging in criminal activities once they return home.

CMC/es/kb/2018

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Caribbean American Congresswoman outraged over separation of children from parents at US border

Caribbean American Congresswoman outraged over separation of children from parents at US border

By Nelson A. King

NEW YORK, Jun. 18,   CMC – Caribbean American Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke has joined intensified outrage in the United States over the Trump administration’s decision to separate migrant children from their parents at the US border. 

“There is no act lower than ripping innocent children from the arms of their mothers,” said Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, in an  interview with the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC), on Sunday.

Yvette D. Clarke

“We have hit an all-time low as a people and a country,” added the representative for the 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn. “It is one of the most inhumane, cruel acts that could ever be taken by the Trump administration.

“As a second generation American, the daughter of Jamaican immigrant parents,  I take these assaults on immigrant communities personally,” Clarke continued, stating that she has been “a staunch advocate for immigration rights, from fighting for a clean Dream Act, aggressively advocating to keep families together to keeping vulnerable children with their parents, and fighting the Trump administration on their revocation of DACA [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals] and attacks on Diversity Visas.”

In addressing what she described as “the racist, xenophobia of the Trump Administration,” Clarke said she has also advocated for the ASPIRE Act, a bipartisan bill to provide individuals who have received Temporary Protective Status (TPS), legal permanent residency.

“This administration has no bounds, even children don’t seem to matter,” the congresswoman said. “Therefore, I vow to continue to fight ferociously, along with my colleagues, against these grave injustices; and, we don’t plan to stop until justice prevails.”

Amid the profound outrage, US President Donald J. Trump on Saturday reiterated what political analysts and observers say is his erroneous claim that Democrats were responsible for his administration’s policy of separating migrant families arrested at the US border.

“Democrats can fix their forced family breakup at the Border by working with Republicans on new legislation, for a change!” said Trump in a twitter post on the weekend.

On Friday, the Trump administration announced that close to 2,000 children were separated from their migrant parents in a six-week period, concluding in May, as part of its “zero tolerance” policy on immigration.

In expressing outrage over the Trump administration’s new policy, Democrats have said that the separation of children from their parents at the US border is just of the incumbent administration’s making – that they had not enacted any law or rule in that regard.

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CARICOM countries to benefit from new Mexico-FAO initiative

CARICOM countries to benefit from new Mexico-FAO initiative

SANTIAGO, Chile, Jun 15, CMC – At least 14 Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries will design multiple projects to mobilize resources from international sources allowing them to improve the resilience and adaptation of their agriculture, food systems and rural communities to change climate.

The projects will be funded under a new initiative created by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Mexican Agency for International Development Cooperation (AMEXCID).

FAO Director General, José Graziano da Silva, and the Secretary of Foreign Affairs of Mexico, Luis Videgaray, signed the agreement that creates the fund with an initial budget of US$500,000.

They said that the money will be used as a pre-investment resources that will mobilize millions of dollars for resilience and adaptation projects.

“Thanks to the support of the Mexican Agency for International Development Cooperation, 14 CARICOM countries will design 27 projects to mobilize resources against climate change,” said the FAO Director General.

“We all know that the Caribbean is one of the region’s most vulnerable to climate change. We saw it in the last hurricane season, when the islands of Dominica and Barbuda were practically destroyed,” said Videgaray during the signing agreement in Rome.

The countries that will develop the projects are: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Ten of the projects will be presented to the Green Climate Fund, 12 to the Global Environment Facility and five to various European Union mechanisms. They will focus on vulnerable rural communities facing climate risks.

The fund between Mexico and FAO will also support CARICOM countries develop their institutional and technical capacities for planning, decision-making and project management, to enable them to better cope with natural disasters and extreme weather events, the FAO said.

Mexican experts and specialists from FAO will work side-by-side with their Caribbean counterparts in the design and implementation of the projects.

“The fund is a combination of financial resources and human resources,” Videgaray said.

Both the FAO and Mexico say building resilience requires improving the quality of infrastructure through actions such as rectification and strengthening of river channels and burying power lines, but these are expensive investments and the Caribbean countries do not always have the necessary capital to implement them.

“That’s where international funds come in. This initiative from Mexico and FAO will allow countries to obtain much needed resources that are currently available but that many times Caribbean countries cannot access, because their projects have to improve from a technical standpoint,” Videgaray said.

The Secretary of Foreign Affairs of Mexico explained that the fund signed between FAO and Mexico is an agreement open to other countries.

“We already have the good news that the government of Canada is going to come on board with resources. And this is key because the challenge is enormous. We must recognize that the Caribbean is not generating climate change but that it is one of the most affected regions, so we all have the responsibility to contribute, ” Videgaray added.

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Caribbean’s ability to address climate risks boosted by increase in funds

Caribbean’s ability to address climate risks boosted by increase in funds

WASHINGTON, Jun. 17, CMC – The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) says an increase of more than 20 per cent from the previous year by the world’s six largest multilateral development banks (MDBs) has boosted projects that help the Caribbean and other developing countries cut emissions and address climate risks.

The Washington-based financial institution said climate financing by the MDBs rose to a seven-year high of US$35.2 billion in 2017, up more than 20 per cent from the previous year.

The MDBs’ latest joint report on climate financing said US$27.9 billion, or 79 per cent of the 2017 total, was devoted to climate mitigation projects that aim to reduce harmful emissions and slow down global warming.

The remaining 21 per cent or US$7.4 billion of financing for emerging and developing nations was invested in climate adaptation projects that help economies deal with the effects of climate change, such as unusual levels of rain, worsening droughts and extreme weather events, the IDB said.

The IDB said that in 2016,  climate financing from the MDBs had totaled US$27.4 billion.

The latest MDB climate finance figures are detailed in the 2017 “Joint Report on Multilateral Development Banks’ Climate Finance,” combining data from the African Development Bank , the Asian Development Bank , the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the European Investment Bank , the Inter-American Development Bank Group (IDB and IDB Invest) and the World Bank Group (World Bank, IFC and MIGA).

The IDB said these banks account for the vast majority of multilateral development finance.

In October 2017, the IDB said the Islamic Development Bank joined the MDB climate finance tracking groups, adding that their climate finance figures will be included in reports from 2018 onwards.

The IDB said climate funds, such as the Climate Investment Funds (CIF) , the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Trust Fund, the Global Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Fund (GEEREF) , the European Union’s funds for Climate Action and others have also played “an important role in boosting MDB climate finance.”

In addition to the US$35.2 billion of multilateral development finance, the IDB said the same adaptation and mitigation projects attracted an additional US$51.7 billion from other sources of financing last year.

Of the 2017 total, 81 per cent was provided as investment loans, the IDB said.

Other types of financial instruments included policy-based lending, grants, guarantees, equity and lines of credit.

Juan Pablo Bonilla, IDB’s manager of the Climate Change and Sustainability Sector, said the bank channeled nearly US$800 million principally to increase resilience of water-related operations and other built infrastructure.

Bonilla said the region, Sub-Saharan Africa, and East Asia and the Pacific were the three major developing regions receiving the funds.

“In 2017, Latin America and Caribbean ranked highest among world regions accessing MDB climate finance,” said Gema Sacristán, IDB’s chief investment officer. “This represents an unprecedented and steady increase for the Latin America and Caribbean region over the last two years, with the IDB Group as the region’s partner of choice for investing sustainably in the region.”

The IDB said climate finance addresses the specific financial flows for climate change mitigation and adaptation activities.

“These activities contribute to make MDB finance flows consistent with a pathway toward low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development, in line with the Paris Agreement,” the IDB said.

It said the MDBs are currently working on the development of more specific approaches to reporting their activities and how they are aligned with the objectives of the Paris Agreement.

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Investigation Commission wants to probe activities of former minister

Investigation Commission wants to probe activities of former minister

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Jun 16, CMC – The Integrity Commission says there are grounds to begin an investigation into the activities of former investment and trade minister, Asot Michael, who stepped down last month amid speculation that he was among Caribbean politicians who had received bribes from a British investor.

In a statement, the Integrity Commission said the investigation would fall under the Integrity in Public Life Act and the Prevention of Corruption Act, both enacted in 2004.

Asot Michael

Michael’s departure from the Cabinet in May was the second occasion within a seven-month period that he has had to forgo his ministerial position. Last October, he was arrested in London while on his way to a conference in France.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne subsequently removed him as the minister of tourism, economic development, investment and energy, but the 49-year-old rebounded to successfully contest the March 21 general election on behalf of the ruling Antigua and Barbuda labour Party (ABLP).

Michael, who was born in the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, has denied the accusation that unfolded in a British High Court in May in a matter involving British financier Peter Virdee, whose telephone conversations with his business partner, Dieter Trutschler, in 2016, had been recorded by German authorities.

According to the transcript of the document revealed in the High Court, Virdee alleges that Michael had asked him for two million dollars, as well as to buy a car for his mother.

But in his resignation letter to Prime Minister Browne, the Parliamentary Representative of St Peter’s, said he had become “aware that recent media reports, emerging from Court proceedings in the United Kingdom, to which I am not a party, have caused anxiety in some quarters of our society and are being used by opposition political elements to seek to discredit me and the Government.

“I emphasize that I am not a party to the Court proceedings in the United Kingdom which have been reported in the media, nor have I been charged with any wrong doing.  The media reports refer to recordings of conversations between persons other than myself, and I cannot be held responsible for their utterances”.

The Integrity Commission has acknowledged that it does not have the staff or the resources to mount the investigation into Michael noting that it has only one staff member who serves as the secretary to both the body and the Information Commissioner’s offices.

But the Integrity Commission chairman, Radford Hill said that the commission intends to investigate the matter and make a formal request to the government for additional resources.

In addition, the police would be asked to conduct, if necessary.

Hill said that while the commission’s interaction with the public has been limited so far, in short order the commissioners plan to launch a public awareness campaign on the body’s existence, it’s role and mandate.

The commission is also encouraging people to comply with the Integrity in Public Life Act and promises to aggressively enforce compliance in filing declarations and other matters within the confines of their limited resources.

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