Archive | Business/Economy/Banking

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ECCB rolls out DCash

by Bennette Roach – April 1, 2022

DCash and Montserrat

When Governor Timothy N.J. Antoine of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) boasted, “our digital currency DCash is the first monetary union in the world to launch a digital currency”, that was him speaking on Tuesday, December 7, 2021, at 2:00 p.m.

Just this month, the ECCB received two awards: The Central Banking 2022 Green Initiative Award for installing a solar energy farm at the Bank’s Basseterre headquarters and significantly reducing its carbon footprint; and the Best New Banknote Series award from Reconnaissance International; these two prestigious awarding authorities are based in the UK.

Last year, the ECCB received the CBDC Infrastructure Award at the FinTech & RegTech Global Awards hosted by Central Banking.  Bitt, the technology partner for the DCash pilot, was also named Central Banking’s 2021 Central Bank Digital Currency Partner. In 2017, the ECCB received the Action Learning award.  

The boast then was made on the occasion the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank’s (ECCB) Governor hosted in Dominica in a virtual launch, expressed his pleasure to be rolling out the DCash pilot to two additional member countries in the Commonwealth of Dominica and Montserrat. DBS Radio in the Commonwealth of Dominica and ZJB Radio in Montserrat provided live radio coverage of the day’s launch from 2:00 p.m.

“I’m delighted to welcome the commonwealth of Dominica and Montserrat to our DCash family, and I feel in a sense as if this being the Christmas season, that we’ve presented a gift to the people of Montserrat and Dominica, by presenting and launching DCash.

Governor Antoine Remarks at DCash Launch in the Commonwealth of Dominica and Montserrat

“Payments are the lifeblood of every economy,” the Governor said in his opening remarks.

In March 2021, DCash – the digital version of the EC dollar – was launched in four of the eight-member ECCU countries, namely Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, St. Christopher (St. Kitts) and Nevis, and Saint Lucia, then in August in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

After today’s launch, the remaining member country where DCash will be launched is Anguilla.

“The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank truly believes that the payment system should work for all, except for illicit actors,” Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, Mr. Timothy N.J. Antoine said, addressing the justification for creating the DCash Central Bank Digital Currency. “That means it must work for small states and small businesses,” the ECCB Governor added while noting that presently, “payments are too slow and too expensive.”

 So, how does this DCash work?

The free DCash (Digital Cash) app on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store enables users to send and receive money from their family members, friends, or customers who live in the same country or in any other Eastern Caribbean country where DCash has been launched. DCash transactions are processed in real-time, with no transfer fees during the pilot project.

DCash, which can be used with or without a bank account, is aimed at achieving three policy goals: payment system efficiency, financial inclusion of the unbanked and underbanked populations, and increased resilience and competitiveness in the ECCU.

The ECCB Governor explained. “All of these goals are aimed at boosting economic growth, but ultimately at propelling our agenda of socioeconomic transformation for the shared prosperity of the people of our Currency Union. That is always fundamentally what is at stake here – shared prosperity for the people we serve – and we believe that to do that, we have to transform the region, and DCash is an important instrument in what is really the bigger conversation about the buildout of a digital economy for our Currency Union,”

“Our single largest asset as a Central Bank is trust, and therefore we believe we have an obligation to leverage that trust to help build out the digital economy – and we locate DCash as an important advance in the ultimate digitalisation of our economy and society,” Governor Antoine also said.

Unwrap the Gift

In concluding his brief opening remarks the Governor by making the point: “… the fundamental value proposition of DCash is – faster, cheaper and safer. It’s faster than anything you will find on the market; it’s cheaper than anything you will find on the market and it’s safer than anything you will find. But our motivation is not to make a profit.

“This investment by your central bank has been done in your name and for you and the benefits to be derived are for you the people of our currency union. So our satisfaction will come from seeing people use the cash, and as a man of faith, and as I reflect in this Christmas season and this yuletide season I can think of a gift that has been given to us that which some of us have not yet unwrapped.”

“I’ll leave you to think about that and I will simply say to you DCash is a gift that has been presented to you please unwrap and use the gift.”

 The photo of the launch shows those in Montserrat who officiated in the rollout. They were Miss Maureen Estwick, Resident ECCB agent who gave the vote of thanks for the virtual event, Mr. Baldwin Taylor, Manager of Bank of Montserrat (BoM); Mr. Peter Queeley, Manager, St. Patrick’s Co-operative Credit Union (SPCCU); and, Mr. Manish Valecha, DCash Merchant, Agent, and End-user.

These, representing the two financial institutions and DCash agency in Montserrat, all gave brief accolades about the DCash product and its introduction.  Mr. Valecha in his brief, expressed his pleasure, lamenting he didn’t know how people managed to do business before and that “…DCash is here, faster, cheaper and safer way to pay for goods and services locally and regionally as well as ECCB is on its way providing social and economic activity through DCash…”

Mr. Queeley thanked ECCB for its foresight, efficiency, and inclusiveness, enhancing financial activity, adding: “…secondly, I wish to further congratulate the ECCB for having the wisdom and foresight to include small non-banking institutions such as the Credit Union in the participation in the rollout of DCash in Montserrat and indeed in the ECCU region…”

BoM Manager Mr. Taylor expressed being honoured to be a part of “this rollout of DCash! It fits right into the strategic objectives of Bank of Montserrat to make banking, more efficient, faster, and cheaper for our customers, fitting into the theme of DCash,” he said.

Deputy Premier of Montserrat, Honourable Samuel Joseph, representing the Government said of DCash: “…this digital revolution has the potential to raise the income level in the region… the OECS face numerous challenges, but our region will not be defined by the adversities but how we deal with them.

Minister of Digital Economy, Honourable Cassanni Laville, Commonwealth of Dominica at DCash Launch said at the virtual host site in Dominica, “We wholeheartedly embrace the launch of DCash, and I encourage merchants and consumers especially in Dominica and Montserrat and all the other participating countries to sign on and use this service. I have already done so and I must say it is easy to use.

When the DCash pilot project rolled out a year ago consumers signed up to use the new currency either through a participating financial institution or via an authorised DCash agent.

The ECCB rolled out DCash initially in Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Saint Christopher (St Kitts) and Nevis, and Saint Lucia as part of the ECCB’s Digital Currency Pilot.

To learn more about the ECCB’s DCash pilot project, log on to www.dcashec.com and its Facebook page @DCashECCU.

https://www.facebook.com/DCashECCU/videos/455473186166908
DCash Launch Event – Commonwealth of Dominica and Montserrat

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Legal – Probate Notice

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BVI News: CoP declines to state RVIPF’s involvement in Fahie probe

Commissioner declines to state RVIPF’s involvement in Fahie probe

in All News / By: Fitsroy Randall on May 19, 2022 at 11:39 AM /

BVI Police Commissioner Mark Collins

As the United States (US) continues to build its case against disgraced former Premier Andrew Fahie and his alleged co-conspirators, Commissioner of Police in the BVI, Mark Collins, has declined to state the extent of the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force’s (RVIPF) involvement in the investigation process.

BVI News asked Commissioner Mark Collins if US law enforcement agencies have been in contact with the RVIPF for assistance into their probe of Fahie and his co-accused.

In response, the Commissioner said: “That’s not something I would discuss with the media as the Andrew Fahie investigation is still ongoing”.

Just last week, Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley signalled the government’s willingness to cooperate with the US officials if assistance is required in further investigations of alleged co-conspirators of Fahie.

In Fahie’s charging affidavit, there was mention of a person classified as ‘Government Official 1” who was described as a high-ranking, corrupt government operative who has ‘many employers’.

It was insinuated the person is controlled by drug dealers and facilitates the passage of illicit drugs through the territory.

Premier Wheatley maintained the BVI has a strong history of working with officials in the United States and will continue to do so.

Fahie was arrested along with Managing Director of the BVI Ports Authority, Oleanvine Maynard at Miami-Opa Locka Airport on April 28. Maynard’s son Kadeem was arrested in St Thomas, USVI. The three are charged with conspiracy to import a controlled substance (cocaine), conspiracy to engage in money laundering and attempted money laundering.

Fahie and Oleanvine are currently being detained in Miami while Kadeem is in detention in Puerto Rico. The three face a possible life sentence if convicted of the alleged crimes.

Meanwhile:

Premier hopes UK will respond to government’s proposals within days

in All News / By: BVI News on May 19, 2022 at 8:18 AM /

Premier Dr. Natalio Wheatley has expressed hopes for an urgent response from the United Kingdom (UK) to a proposal he submitted recently on the way forward for the BVI.

The BVI’s political leaders are hoping to avert direct rule by the UK as recommended in the Commission of Inquiry (COI) report which was released recently.

New Premier Wheatley with BVI Governor Rankin

Premier Wheatley disclosed previously that he had submitted a proposal to the UK on how the locally elected government can address concerns raised in the report and implement suggested reforms on its own.

“I’m hopeful that we would receive a decision within a few days. I’m hopeful. They received our proposal, they’ve said to us they’ve received it. They actually asked a few questions about the proposal, so we know that they are currently considering it and we are hopeful that they will come forward with a positive response to us very soon,” Dr. Wheatley said late last week.

Direct rule by the United Kingdom, as proposed by the COI report, may possibly entail a temporary partial suspension of the territory’s constitutional order and the assistance of an Advisory Council to support the Governor in the execution of his duties and the formulation of policy as the territory’s new leader.

Sir Gary Hickinbottom, who led the COI and authored the report, concluded that this suspension was necessary given that elected officials over the years have deliberately ignored the tenets of good governance.

He said this situation has given rise to an environment in which the risk of dishonesty in public decision-making and funding has continued unabated.

“We are hopeful that they accept [the terms in the proposal]. So I’m pretty sure that they will respond directly to our proposal as to whether they accept it or not accept it,” the Premier stated.

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Express

Boris Johnson faces fight for political life: Tory MPs want NEW PM by Autumn

BORIS Johnson will have to fight for his political life if the Tories suffer disastrous local elections this week.

By JONATHAN WALKER – SUNDAY EXPRESS DEPUTY POLITICAL EDITORDAVID WILLIAMSON – SUNDAY EXPRESS DEPUTY POLITICAL EDITOR 05:01, Sun, May 1, 2022 | UPDATED: 12:22, Sun, May 1, 2022

Fear: Boris Johnson

Conservative foes of the Prime Minister want to see a leadership election with a new Prime Minister in place in time for the autumn party conference. Tories fear they will lose control of a raft of councils in London and that councillors across the country will be ousted from their seats. A poor result would likely lead to letters being sent to the 1922 Committee in an attempt to unseat him as leader, it was warned.

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Mr Johnson’s opponents in the party want him to face a confidence vote before recess starts on July 21 so a leadership election can be held and a new PM installed in time for the autumn party conference.

A bullish Mr Johnson defended the Tories’ record in local government and fired a new salvo in the so-called culture wars, saying: “The choice on May 5 is clear. Labour and Lib Dems who fritter away your council tax on deciding which statues to tear down or Conservatives, delivering value for money and delivering on your local priorities.”

Conservative hopes of avoiding disastrous results may well hinge on whether Mr Johnson can persuade Tory-leaning voters not to make a protest vote or sit the election out.

A Conservative MP warned: “It’s voter apathy that’s going to be the killer this time, it really is.”

Mr Johnson put the focus on street-level issues, saying: “The elections next Thursday matter. People are voting for councillors and councils who decide how often bins are collected, how many potholes are repaired and how much council tax is paid.”

He claimed “Conservative councils on average fix four times as many pestilent potholes as Labour councils” and said they “recycle more of your rubbish than Labour too”.

Conservative party chairman Oliver Dowden boasted that Tory councils charge the “lowest council tax in the country” and blasted rival parties, saying: “Woke lefties running Labour and Lib Dem councils obsess about changing street names while leaving councils like Labour-run Croydon bankrupt.”

Decisive: Sir Keir Starmer
Decisive: Sir Keir Starmer (Image: GETTY)

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said: “When Sunday Express readers go to the polls this week I hope they will elect hard working local Conservatives who have a proven record of managing money well, delivering high quality local services, and who support good local jobs.”

The raft of local elections taking place on Thursday are held against the backdrop of the cost of living crisis, with both the Conservatives and Labour rocked by allegations of breaking Covid restrictions.

Labour last week admitted that Angela Rayner, the party’s deputy leader, was at an event where Sir Keir Starmer was filmed drinking a beer.

Conservative MP Richard Holden has asked Durham Police to reconsider its assessment that no offence was committed during the April 30 event last year.

Shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson yesterday said Mr Holden should “know better than to waste police time on this nonsense”. Mr Holden accused Labour of hypocrisy for suggesting investigating concerns about Covid breaches is a waste of police time “when it’s all we’ve heard from them for months”.

Former Conservative chief whip Mark Harper, who called for Mr Johnson to step down after he received a fixed penalty notice for attending a birthday celebration in No 10, expects the council elections may be a “mixed bag” and “inconclusive” but said: “Before the summer recess, all my Conservative colleagues should have enough information to make a decision on who they want to lead us into the next general election.

“Do we stick with an uncertain course led by someone who is making good and decent Conservatives across the country defend the indefensible? Or do we get a new team in place to lead a revitalised Government, focused on Conservative priorities who will treat the electorate with respect?

TRENDING

“We have a large majority, it’s time we started to use it properly to deal with the country’s challenges using Conservative principles.”

Another leading Conservative critic of Mr. Johnson said the “general view” now was that Mr. Johnson should face a confidence vote if councils are lost. They said a leadership contest over the summer with a new PM in place in time for the autumn conference was the “logical timetable”.

A Conservative MP warned that the Tories could face “annihilation” in London, the Home Counties and “Lib Dem-facing seats”.

However, they were wary of staging an election for a new leader, saying: “I think a leadership contest is by its nature at least a three-month contest. It’s going to be a massive distraction from some fairly big issues at the moment.

“I’m not sure the public will thank us at the end of it, when probably at least half of voters will be no happier with a new Prime Minister than they are with the old one.”

A further concern is that a raft of cabinet ministers would throw their hats into the ring and look “more focused on a leadership contest than on Ukraine, rebuilding the NHS or whatever else they are supposed to be doing”.

Another Conservative MP who represents a seat in the so-called “red wall” of former Labour constituencies acknowledged how the party mood could turn against the PM after a bad night.

MOST COMMENTED – JOIN THE DEBATE

They said: “[When] MPs start having their own membership, activists, councillors, or maybe recently former councillors after next Thursday, on at them, I’m not sure how quickly the mood might turn. [I] think the emotional impact for people who have been working really hard to make gains or hold seats in some of these tougher areas and get trounced, that’s going to be very hard to swallow for some people.”

Conservative insiders are braced for attempts by Mr Johnson’s internal critics to oust him in the wake of bad results but are in no doubt that he will fight to stay.

A source said: “The PM is not going anywhere. He will fight on.”

However, a party insider did nothing to play down the scale of the challenge facing the Conservatives.

They said: “We are expecting it to be a tough night for us. We are 12 years into government…

“London is looking very tough for us. Places like Barnet and Wandsworth and Westminster are looking very, very difficult for us to hold.”

High profile victories in London will boost the spirits of Labour supporters but the party will look for signs that under Sir Keir Starmer’s leadership it is winning back voters it lost in 2019. Failure to score major successes outside London could trigger renewed criticism about his strategy.

The Tory insider said: “We do expect [Labour] to do well in London and probably take some councils off us but the test will be how’s he doing in areas of the Midlands and the North that they lost in 2019.”

They said: “[When] MPs start having their own membership, activists, councillors, or maybe recently former councillors after next Thursday, on at them, I’m not sure how quickly the mood might turn. [I] think the emotional impact for people who have been working really hard to make gains or hold seats in some of these tougher areas and get trounced, that’s going to be very hard to swallow for some people.”

Conservative insiders are braced for attempts by Mr Johnson’s internal critics to oust him in the wake of bad results but are in no doubt that he will fight to stay.

A source said: “The PM is not going anywhere. He will fight on.”

However, a party insider did nothing to play down the scale of the challenge facing the Conservatives.

They said: “We are expecting it to be a tough night for us. We are 12 years into government…

“London is looking very tough for us. Places like Barnet and Wandsworth and Westminster are looking very, very difficult for us to hold.”

High profile victories in London will boost the spirits of Labour supporters but the party will look for signs that under Sir Keir Starmer’s leadership it is winning back voters it lost in 2019. Failure to score major successes outside London could trigger renewed criticism about his strategy.

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The Tory insider said: “We do expect [Labour] to do well in London and probably take some councils off us but the test will be how’s he doing in areas of the Midlands and the North that they lost in 2019.”

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Comment by Guy Opperman, Minister for Pensions

One month ago the Sunday Express helped us launch our campaign to boost the number of people getting Pension Credit. Thanks to its support we’ve seen an increase in the numbers visiting our online Pension Credit calculator.

But we’re not stopping tere. Pension Credit can be worth over £3,300 a year for those over State Pension age and on a low income. It also opens up access to other support.

Over the coming months we’ll be going all out to raise awareness of Pension Credit and showing how easy it is to claim. And we want Sunday Express readers to keep helping us too.

We are calling on everyone with retired family and friends to encourage them to check if they qualify and help them make a claim if they do.

With rising costs, it’s never been more important to make sure that people are receiving all the support they can get.

Boris JohnsonLabour PartyConservative Party Sir Keir Starmer

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, COVID-19, International, Local, News, Politics, Regional, UK - Brexit0 Comments

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson shake hands during their meeting in Kyiv.

UK pledges new military assistance for Ukraine after PM’s surprise visit to Kyiv

By Sarah Dean and Ivana Kottasová, CNN

April 10, 2022

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson shake hands during their meeting in Kyiv.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson shake hands during their meeting in Kyiv.

(CNN)The UK is to send 120 armored vehicles and new anti-ship missile systems to Ukraine, Downing Street announced Saturday after Prime Minister Boris Johnson paid an in-person visit to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Johnson and Austria’s Chancellor Karl Nehammer made separate visits to Zelensky on Saturday, the latest in a string of leaders to travel to the country during the ongoing Russian invasion. A photograph tweeted by Ukraine’s Embassy to the UK showed Johnson seated opposite Zelensky at a table in a pink and green stuccoed room. The post was captioned with the word “Surprise” and a winking face emoji.

The Press Service of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine said on its official Twitter account that the two leaders had held talks in Kyiv, posting several photographs of the pair’s previously unannounced meeting. Johnson posted on Twitter that his visit to Kyiv was “a show of our unwavering support for the people of Ukraine” and announced a new package of financial and military aid.

In this image provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, left, welcomes Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Kyiv.
In this image provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, left, welcomes Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Kyiv.

“Ukraine has defied the odds and pushed back Russian forces from the gates of Kyiv, achieving the greatest feat of arms of the 21st century,” the UK PM said in a statement.

He praised Zelensky’s “resolute leadership” and the “invincible heroism and courage of the Ukrainian people,” adding that the UK “stands unwaveringly with them in this ongoing fight … we are in it for the long run.

“Later in his nightly address posted on social media, Zelensky thanked the UK and Johnson.

“Boris was among those who didn’t doubt for a minute whether to support Ukraine. The leadership of Great Britain in providing our country help in defense, and also leadership in the sanctions policy, will always be in history.

“Ukraine will always be grateful for this to Boris and Britain,” Zelensky said.

During the press conference, Johnson said the UK will continue to intensify sanctions against Russia. Johnson also said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions have dealt a “crushing blow” to his reputation and the Russian government.

“We will influence Russia’s ability to use its energy resources,” he added.

“The war determines the vision of Ukraine’s future, so our partners and I will supply Ukraine with equipment, technology, and intelligence so that Ukraine never faces the horrors of invasion and blackmail.

” Following the meeting, Downing Street said the UK government would provide armored vehicles and anti-ship missile systems, “in addition to the £100 million worth of high-grade military equipment” announced on Friday.

Zelensky and Nehammer’s meeting was separate to the one with Johnson and happened earlier on Saturday, according to Zelensky’s official Telegram channel.

While several other leaders have visited Ukraine in recent weeks, the trip by Nehammer is significant given his country’s neutral status, which is enshrined in its constitution.

Russia or die: After weeks under Putin's bombs, these Ukrainians were given only one way out
Russia or die: After weeks under Putin’s bombs, these Ukrainians were given only one way out.

Austria is not part of NATO and does not supply weapons to Ukraine. It has, however, provided Ukraine with humanitarian aid and helmets and protection vests for civilian use, according to a statement from the Austrian Chancellery.

Nehammer said Saturday that while his country is militarily neutral, “We understand we have to help where injustice and war crimes take place.

“According to his office, Nehammer was set to meet with Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal and Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko, before returning to Austria on Saturday evening.

Nehammer was also due to visit the Kyiv suburb of Bucha, which endured five weeks of near-constant firefights; after Russian forces withdrew from the town, the bodies of at least 20 civilians were found lying in one street, some with their hands tied.

War in Ukraine is scrambling the world’s ability to fight climate change.

Nehammer said Bucha was “a place of war crimes.”

“We have to make those war crimes known to the UN, and international justice must begin investigating and fight these crimes,” he said during a news conference with Zelensky.

The twin visits by Johnson and Nehammer came a day after top European Union officials made a trip to Ukraine. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Josep Borrell, the bloc’s top diplomat, visited Kyiv and Bucha on Friday, alongside Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger.

During the visit, von der Leyen ceremoniously handed Zelensky an EU questionnaire to complete — a symbolic, but important step towards Ukraine’s membership of the bloc. Tweeting about the move, von der Leyen said: “We will accelerate this process as much as we can, while ensuring that all conditions are respected.”

The prime ministers of the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovenia visited Kyiv last month, at a time when it was still regularly targeted by Russian strikes. Like Johnson’s visit on Saturday, that trip was kept secret until the three leaders were in the country, traveling on a train from eastern Ukraine.

CNN’s Sarah Dean reported from Przemysl, Poland and Ivana Kottasova wrote in London. CNN’s James Frater, Radina Gigova, Alex Hardie, Tara John, Max Foster, Mariya Knight and Maija Ehlinger contributed reporting.

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

Nurses-demonstrate...0

Montserrat Nurses demonstrate

Nurses demonstrate their hurt from lack of being heard or responses to their needs and concerns…
https://www.facebook.com/MNISpirit/videos/687281742585960/

When it gets to this, know there is much to learn… and others in the wings – the state of Montserrat affairs…

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real-masquerades140259404_459073465461663_1808658859849793871_o-1

Montserrat reopens its borders but discriminates on Quarantine

No gathering today would look like this one – the good old days of Plymouth

The following release headed as follows really does little more than remove the requirement to apply for ‘permission’ to enter Montserrat. “It’s still so easy to be a COVID-19 criminal…”

THE GOVERNMENT OF MONTSERRAT RELAXES SOME COVID-19 RESTRICTIONS

No restrictions on the number of persons allowed to gather, Border Reopens, No quarantine period for Fully-Vaccinated Persons among other changes

Thursday, March 31, 2022 – The Government of Montserrat has made some significant relaxation adjustments to the COVID-19 suppression regulations since the implementation of these measures in 2020.

As of today Thursday, March 31, 2022, at 5:00 a.m. the Public Health (COVID-19 Suppression) (No.3) Order, (S.R.O 19 of 2022) took effect bringing an end to restrictions on the number of persons allowed to gather in a public place and removing the ‘Allowed to Enter Category’ which previously stipulated who is permitted to enter Montserrat, among other changes.  

Persons traveling to Montserrat are no longer required to fill out an online declaration form for permission to enter.  The pre-travel online declaration form is only required to be completed and submitted by non-resident technicians who are unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated.

As it relates to an individuals’ COVID-19 status, the new regulations maintain the requirements for persons entering Montserrat to present a negative COVID-19 test result.  The negative test result document must include all the information previously stipulated regarding the laboratory details; full name, address, and date of birth of the person tested; the date the test was conducted and it must now also include the date the sample was taken. 

The pre-entry requirements are as follows:

  • A person who intends to enter Montserrat shall take a COVID-19 test no earlier than three days prior to entry into Montserrat.

(2)  The following persons are exempted from this requirement:

(a)  a child under five years of age;

(b)  a person entering Montserrat in circumstances related to a medical evacuation; and

(c)  a person who has been granted permission by the Minister to enter Montserrat for the purpose of aiding with preparations for a disaster or after a disaster,

The owner of a vessel or aircraft must ensure that persons traveling are in possession of a copy of a negative PCR COVID-19 test or a negative RNA COVID-19 test or else the owner will be committing an offence.

Persons arriving on Montserrat are required to answer all questions asked by the Medical or Health Officer and may be required to undertake health checks and screenings.  Individuals who are fully vaccinated must provide the Medical or Health officer with proof of their vaccination status. If this evidence is not provided, then the individual will be regarded and treated as not being fully vaccinated.

A fully vaccinated person is required to be tested for COVID-19 on entry into Montserrat.  If the result indicates that the person is not infected with COVID-19 then the individual is not required to self-quarantine or isolate. However, if the test result is indeterminate (unknown/inconclusive) then the fully vaccinated person must go directly home, place of occupancy, designated quarantine facility, or place of isolation and shall remain there to await the results of further COVID-19 tests.

If further testing reveals that the fully vaccinated person is infected then he or she is required to self-quarantine or isolate until:

(a) he/she is not infected with COVID-19; or

(b)  he/she leaves Montserrat.

The regulations for a fully-vaccinated person will also apply to a fully-vaccinated non-resident technician.

Persons not fully vaccinated – entry into Montserrat

Individuals who are unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated upon arrival after undergoing the necessary COVID-19 screenings are required to go directly to his/her home or place of occupancy, designated quarantine facility, or place of isolation and self-quarantine for 10 days.

Between eight and ten days after entering Montserrat the individual will be tested for COVID-19 to determine if he/she is negative and can therefore be released from quarantine on day 10.

If the individual is required to leave Montserrat before the 10 days have elapsed, then he/she will be allowed to do so.

Not fully vaccinated – Non-resident technician

The previously established COVID-19 testing requirements for a non-resident technician who is not fully vaccinated to be tested within 24 hours of entry into Montserrat remain in place.

Prior to entering Montserrat, the unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated non-resident technician is required to apply to the Minister of Health for approval to enter Montserrat before submitting the online declaration. To apply for approval, an unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated non-resident technician should send an email outlining details of intended travel to Montserrat to mehcsmail@gov.ms.

The non-resident technician who is not fully vaccinated is not required to self-quarantine but must be guided by the following:

  1. only be in a public place for the purpose of traveling to and from the place where he is undertaking work as a non-resident technician;
  2. wear a mask at all times while at the place where he is undertaking work as a non-resident technician;
  3. practice social distancing while at the place where he is undertaking work as a non-resident technician; and
  4. remain at his place of occupancy at all times except when traveling to and from the place where he is undertaking work as a non-resident technician.

All persons entering Montserrat are required to pay the requisite fees for the COVID-19 test(s), where applicable.   Additionally, antigen tests have been added to the list of COVID-19 tests accepted for entry into Montserrat; the other two are RNA and PCR. However, antibody tests are not accepted.

Persons who enter Montserrat under the current order will not be allowed to switch to the new order S.R.O 19 of 2022.

Protocols for Children  

The new SRO also makes amendments to regulations pertaining to children.  Under the new order, if a child under the age of 18 enters Montserrat, the child will be treated like the adult who accompanied the child when entering the island.  Additionally, a child two years and under is not required to take a COVID-19 test.

Protocols-Bus drivers and taxi operators

As it relates to bus drivers and taxi operators, the new order stipulates that the owner or driver of a bus or taxi shall place or cause to be placed a hand hygiene station in a conspicuous (visible) place at the entrance of the bus or taxi.  The owner or driver must also mandate that passengers use the hand hygiene station before entering the bus or taxi; ensure regular refilling of containers or regular refilling and maintenance of the equipment at the hand hygiene station and ensure that a passenger wears a face covering in a bus or taxi.

Under the new SRO, face-coverings are still mandatory in public places, hand hygiene stations are still mandatory at the entrance of public and private buildings; restrictions on visitations to a patient in the hospital, a residential care facility, and a detainee in prison remain in place, except with permission or prior approval from the Heads of these institutions.

Previously established protocols for the operation of business establishments such as bars, restaurants, religious establishments, hair salons, spas, and other similar businesses, gyms, and sports clubs are no longer in place.

S.R.O 19 of 2022 will expire on Wednesday, August 31, 2022, at 5:00 a.m.

S.R.O 19 of 2022 is available on the Government website, under the Attorney General’s page. The S.R.O. can be accessed at the following direct link:  

Public Health (COVID-19 Suppression) (No.3) Order (www.gov.ms)

Additionally, please note the date of effect for S.R.O 19 of 2022 was amended in S.R.O 22 of 2022.  A link to the amendment order is provided below:

Public Health (Covid-19 Suppression) (No. 3) (Amendment) Order (www.gov.ms)

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, CARICOM, COVID-19, Crime, Featured, International, Local, News, OECS, Regional, Religion, TOURISM0 Comments

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The Caribbean’s crowds-free ‘Irish’ isle

Tourism-dependent Montserrat is attracting remote workers with a year-long digital nomad visa (Credit: obertharding/Alamy)
The British overseas territory of Montserrat is joining the trend of island states pushing to attract remote workers to come and stay awhile.
(Image credit: obertharding/Alamy)
https://www.bbc.co.uk/

By William Fleeson 25th March, 2022

The British overseas territory of Montserrat is joining the trend of island states pushing to attract remote workers to come and stay awhile.

Compared with the rest of the world, the Covid-19 pandemic has given Montserrat a pass. A British overseas territory, the volcanic eastern Caribbean island has suffered negligible rates of Covid, with fewer than 200 infections and just two deaths among its population of 5,000 people, known as Montserratians.

Montserrat’s government now wants to turn its containment success into a tourist draw through a year-long digital nomad visa. After a lockdown in 2021, its tourism-dependent economy is joining the trend of island states pushing to attract remote workers to come and stay a while as Covid persists elsewhere.

Launched in April 2021, the programme, called the Montserrat Remote Worker Stamp, offers a “best of both worlds” approach that balances nature and connectivity, said Rosetta West-Gerald, Montserrat’s new director of tourism.

Longer-term, she said, the island hopes the scheme will foster extended relationships – and a deeper economic impact.

“Beyond 2022, it is our hope that some of the remote workers will fall in love with the island and be converted into homeowners or residential visitors,” West-Gerald said.

Why should I go now?

As Covid rates begin to wane globally, the island’s appeal has only grown. At its launch last year, the visa set itself apart by requiring a minimum stay of two months, rather than a maximum duration found in similar schemes. Then in early 2022, the two-month minimum was scrapped. Digital nomads can stay for a year or a week, as they prefer.

That flexibility perhaps stems from a need to boost visits by all possible means. “[During the pandemic] the closure of the island drastically affected the economy,” said Clover Lea, who runs the Gingerbread Hill bed and breakfast in the village of St Peter’s. Her reservations fell by 80%.

Gingerbread Hill does shopping, grocery pick-up and other errands for quarantining guests (Credit: Hemis/Alamy)
Gingerbread Hill does shopping, grocery pick-up and other errands for quarantining guests (Credit: Hemis/Alamy)

Others are more sceptical of the digital nomad scheme so far. “I don’t know if the remote worker thing has really had much of an effect,” said Margaret Wilson, proprietor of Olveston House, a hotel. Yet she recognises the island’s appeal, even if the scheme remains a work in progress.

“Why visit Montserrat now? Don’t ask me, I’m biased,” Wilson said. “To me, it’s paradise.” 

Apart from pandemic-related changes, Montserrat’s appeal is rooted in history, which may be disappearing as hyper-development and overtourism transform other Caribbean islands. Its best-known qualities include its famous friendliness, an outsized musical tradition and pride in its Irish heritage.

In the 17th and 18th Centuries, thousands of Irish Catholics sought opportunity beyond persecution in Britain and colonial America, betting their futures on Montserrat’s export-focused – and slave-based – economy. Today’s Montserratians express pride in their combined Irish and African family trees. Montserrat is the only location outside Ireland to make St Patrick’s Day a national holiday. The festival, which also marks the anniversary of a 1768 slave rebellion, has become a key touchpoint of Montserratian culture and identity.

At the festival’s heart are culinary standouts like goat water (actually a stew), Montserrat’s national dish. It’s a reflection of the island’s combined African and Irish ancestries: a riff on Irish goat stew with a mix of old-world African spices like Scotch bonnet chilli powder – topped with a decidedly new-world shot of rum. Since the recipe calls for hours of simmering, goat water is usually prepared only for special occasions.

In 1995, blasts from the Soufrière Hills volcano covered Montserrat's southern half in ash and soot (Credit: MichaelUtech/Getty Images)

In 1995, blasts from the Soufrière Hills volcano covered Montserrat’s southern half in ash and soot (Credit: MichaelUtech/Getty Images)

The island is in many ways still recovering from a more recent historical shock. Jolted by a series of volcanic eruptions that began in 1995, the blasts from the Soufrière Hills volcano covered the island’s southern half in ash and soot. Thousands of islanders fled to safety, many relocating to the UK. Today, the island’s population is half what it was pre-eruption.

This is the Caribbean like it used to be

But the same reality – the island’s sparse population – makes Montserrat a rare crowds-free Caribbean locale.

“This is the Caribbean like it used to be,” Lea said.

Travel with no trace 

For so small an island, Montserrat’s menu for sustainable tourism runs long. In Centre Hills, a forest reserve unscathed by the volcanic blasts, visitors can hike up to achieve cinematic views of the island and surrounding ocean. In February, the British government announced plans for a £35m “climate-resilient” port at Little Bay, on the island’s north-west side.

For families with children, the Montserrat National Trust in October launched the EcoPlay Park, an outdoor space and learning centre within the island’s botanical garden. The site includes playgrounds and an “orchid wall” describing the endemic Monserrat orchid. EcoPlay “expresses who we are and where we live”, according to Yasmin Shariff, an architect involved in the project.

The Oriole Walkway trail is Montserrat's most popular hike (Credit: Hemis/Alamy)

The Oriole Walkway trail is Montserrat’s most popular hike (Credit: Hemis/Alamy)

Kids of all ages might get enthusiastic about Montserrat’s diverse animal life. The Oriole Walkway trail, named after the yellow-breasted national bird, is Montserrat’s most popular hike. Animal watchers can scout for other exotic fauna: the galliwasp, a species of lizard; and the “mountain chicken” – actually a frog, whose name suggests its size (among the world’s largest) and its past use as a food source by Montserrat’s mountain populations.

In the near future, the island will be rolling out a tourist-focused environmental programme that will showcase its highland ecosystems, birdwatching and volcano viewing. The programme will allow visitors to learn about Montserrat’s full breadth of natural diversity, West-Gerald said. 

Know before you go

As many pandemic precautions remain in place, the inter-island ferry service for Monserrat, nearby Antigua and Barbuda and other islands is suspended. Travellers can fly via Antigua before an onward 15-minute hop to Montserrat. Private charters can be arranged at FlyMontserrat.com.

Fully vaccinated visitors, while allowed to visit the island, are required to quarantine for five days, with a mandatory test required before being allowed to cease isolation. (Montserrat previously required a quarantine of 10 days.)

Many accommodations are offering reduced rates and added services to assist quarantining guests. Gingerbread Hill has begun to do shopping, grocery pick-up and other errands for their guests. Olveston House – once owned by Beatles record producer George Martin – offers similar services.

— 

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Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, COVID-19, Featured, International, Local, News, Regional, Volcano0 Comments

ECCU Social Security Systems Are Key to National Development

from ECCB Connects…

  • March 21, 2022

The role of Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) Social Security Systems is critical to national
development.

Speaking on the second of a two-part interview, recently Retired Director of the Anguilla Social Security Board, Dr. Timothy Hodge, and Acting Deputy Director Research Department, ECCB, Shernnel Thompson, discuss the roles of social security systems; some of the challenges the systems are facing; and steps that can be taken to protect and preserve these important systems.

Dr Hodge says that over the years, social security systems have provided a much stronger and bigger framework to prevent social chaos by removing the likelihood of persons who may end up as wards of the State. He adds that the social safety net provided by the region’s social security systems allows people to retire with some sense of dignity. In addition, Dr. Hodge says that the fund provides an avenue for investment when loaned to governments in the form of bills and bonds. Hence, he concludes that social security systems are often aligned with the ECCU governments’ development agenda.

Speaking from a central-banking perspective, Thompson notes that social security systems comprise one of the largest depositories of commercial banks. Hence it is important for close monitoring of these systems, given their link to the health and stability of the financial sector.

Dr. Hodge reiterates that, in the face of major challenges like the economic crisis of 2008, Hurricane Irma, and the COVID-19 pandemic, social security systems must remain strong, robust, and sustainable. He calls on the citizens of the ECCU to demand good governance, proper legislation, management, and compliance to ensure these systems continue to function effectively.

For the full discussion on the ECCU Social Security Systems, view ECCB Connects on the ECCB Connects YouTube channel and Facebook page.

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Consultancy to Develop a Three (3)- Year Operational Plan and Deliver Training in Governance and Cooperative Management for the St. Lucia Honey- Bee City Cluster

Consultancy to Develop a Three (3)- Year Operational Plan and Deliver Training in Governance and Cooperative Management for the St. Lucia Honey- Bee City Cluster

REQUEST FOR EXPRESSIONS OF INTEREST CONSULTING SERVICES

Selection Method: Individual Consultant-Simplified Competitive Process

Country: St. Lucia
Sector: IFD/CTI-Competitiveness, Technology and Innovation Division
Funding – TC #: ATN/CO-17772-RG
Project #: RG-T3519
TC name: Experiential Learning of Cluster Development Best Practices in Small and Vulnerable Countries

Click here to review TC document

Description of Services:

Consultancy to Develop a Three (3)- Year Operational Plan and Deliver Training in Governance and Cooperative Management for the St. Lucia Honey- Bee City Cluster

The overall objective of this consultancy is toward the development a three-year strategic plan for the operations of beekeeper groups of the Bee City Honey Cluster through training and institutional strengthening of the established co-operative and other Apiary and Beekeeper groups.

Through its Regional Cluster Capacity Building Program for Business Support Organisations (BSOs), CCPF is providing support to cluster initiatives that can help Caribbean firms grow, generate employment and export to new markets. In consultation with private firms and supporting institutions, Export Saint Lucia – the BSO in Saint Lucia – has prepared and is implementing a comprehensive Cluster Development Plan (CDP) for the honey sector. The CDP outlines a common vision for and agreed priorities to support the growth of the sector.

Currently the majority (90%) of Saint Lucia’s honey is purchased domestically, by supermarkets, hotels and health shops. The main purpose of the CDP is to improve the quality of Saint Lucian honey and position it competitively in overseas niche markets for health-conscious consumers. The plan therefore focuses on achieving the following objectives:

• Product Development: The creation of a profile for high-quality Saint Lucian Honey, that is distinctive and competitive in the target market, and that can be used to augment the existing national standard to be adopted by producers;
• Institutional Strengthening and Capacity Building: For cluster stakeholders to produce a competitive honey product in accordance with best practices;

Domestic and International Market Development: To successfully penetrate the identified niche market and reach the target customers, which would entail the development of a domestic and international marketing plan. The CDP is the basis of implementation for the cluster project and will provide the Consultants hired with details and guidance on specific activities.

The Compete Caribbean Partnership Facility (CCPF) is executing the above-mentioned operation. For this operation, the IDB intends to contract consulting services described in this Request for Expressions of Interest.
Expressions of interest must be delivered to Ms. Liana Welch at lianaw@iadb.org by: April 6, 2022, 5:00 P.M. (Atlantic Standard Time).

The consulting services (“the Services”) include the development of a 3-year strategic operational and sustainability plan for a group defined by the Project Steering Committee which will be a fair representation or sample of the beekeeper population. This also includes the preparation of training materials; and training of the defined group in Governance and Co-operative Management.

Key Activities:
I. Develop a more in-depth understanding of the business environment by liaising with Cluster Manager, the Project Steering Committee and Compete Caribbean; studying background documents (Cluster Development Plan, Market Research, Marketing and Branding Plan), executing necessary stakeholder consultations; and liaising with other key stakeholders.
II. Conduct stakeholder validation workshops and engage with cluster members and stakeholders to gain a comprehensive understanding of the CDP and the consultancy, and then develop a detailed workplan describing activities to be completed, timeline, outputs, people responsible, etc.
III. Prepare a comprehensive, results-focused 3- year strategic plan inclusive of a roadmap for growth of key players in the industry and the best practices for the strategy of firms in cluster. The plan should include critical components like HR/labour, Marketing, Sales, Business and production Processes/Operations and Export Planning. Effective tools like KPIs and milestones chart should be defined, and an implementation plan should be included. The strategic plan should take into consideration the findings from the Marketing Research and Penetration Plans completed for the Cluster.
IV. The three (3) year strategic plan will be presented through a Power Point presentation and detailed PDF document.
V. Revise the strategy based on changes agreed to by the cluster manager, the project steering committee, and Compete Caribbean.
VI. Identify and recruit representatives from the main beekeeper groups for the capacity building component.
VII. Develop training materials on Governance and Cooperative Management and design and execute two (2) capacity building workshops on this area. The consulting firm will coordinate the activities related to virtual/hybrid training including assessing the training requirements for the bee keeping groups, developing the curriculum and evaluating the training. The consulting firm will liaise with Compete Caribbean, the Cluster Manager and the Project Steering Committee to develop the training programmes that are consistent with the bee keeping training needs assessment.
VIII. Collect and analyse data and update the report to include data on the results achieved in accordance with Compete Caribbeans M&E requirements.
IX. Prepare a Final Report summarizing the scope of work implemented; evaluation of results achieved; lessons learned; and recommendations for development, which may be needed to support achievement of the planned results of the cluster.

Eligible persons will be selected in accordance with the procedures set out in the Inter-American Development Bank: Policies for the Selection and Contracting of Consultants Financed by the IDB (GN-2350-9).

CCPF now invites eligible persons to indicate their interest in providing the services described above in the draft summary of the intended Terms of Reference for the assignment. Interested persons must provide information establishing that they are qualified to perform the Services (description of similar assignments, experience in similar conditions, availability of appropriate skills among staff, etc.).

Interested persons may obtain further information during office hours, 09:00 AM to 05:00 PM, (Atlantic Standard Time) by sending an email to:

Compete Caribbean Partnership Facility
‘Hythe’
Welches
Maxwell Main Road
Christ Church
BB17068
Attn: Liana Welch
Tel: +1 246-627-8548
E-mail: lianaw@iadb.org
Web site: https://www.competecaribbean.org/

ATN/CO-17772-RG

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