Archive | Business/Economy/Banking

Body of former prime minister returns on Sunday

Body of former prime minister returns on Sunday

by staff writer

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Jun 1, CMC – The Jamaica government says the body of the late former prime minister, Edward Seaga, is scheduled to arrive here on Sunday, as the region and international community continues to pay its respect to him.

A government statement said that Seaga’s remains, draped in the national flag, will arrive on a Caribbean Airlines flight at the Norman Manley International Airport, escorted by members of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF).

Edward Seaga (File Photo)

It said family members, including widow Mrs. Carla Seaga and daughter Gabrielle, will be on the flight and that the body of the country’s fifth prime minister, will be received by the Government with the appropriate honour guard in place.

On hand will be Governor General, Sir Patrick Allen; Prime Minister Andrew Holness; Members of the Cabinet; Leader of the Opposition, Dr. Peter Phillips; Members of Parliament as well as other relatives of the late prime minister, who died in a United States hospital on Tuesday at the age of 89.

The government said that Seaga will be accorded a State funeral and that a period of mourning will be announced.

It said condolence books have opened at locations across the island and people overseas will have the opportunity to sign condolence books, which will be opened in all diplomatic missions.

Meanwhile, Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretary General Irwin LaRocque said Seaga was instrumental in reviving the integration movement as host in 1982 to the first heads of government conference after a seven year hiatus.

“The meeting served to reinvigorate the integration process,” LaRocque said, adding that Seaga made an indelible contribution to the development of his country in many spheres.

“Recognised as the longest serving member of the Jamaican Parliament, he was also the youngest ever nominated to the Legislative Council prior to Independence.  His record of service in both the Lower and Upper Houses was marked not only by his passionate oratory but also by his initiation of innovative legislative actions which resulted in significant changes in his country.

“Mr Seaga lent his considerable experience and expertise to the University of the West Indies (UWI), where, upon his retirement from public life, he was appointed as a Distinguished Fellow at the regional institution’s Mona Campus.  The Campus’ Research Institute had earlier been named in his honour.”

LaRocque said that Seaga has done his part and that Jamaica and the region “ have lost a towering figure.”

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

Two Caribbean governments defend Citizenship by Investment Programme

Two Caribbean governments defend Citizenship by Investment Programme

by staff writer

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, May 31, CMC – The governments of Antigua and Barbuda and St. Kitts-Nevis have strongly defended their respective Citizenship by Investment Programs (CBI) that some regional countries use as a means of luring foreign investments.

Several Caribbean countries provide citizenship to those investors in return for making a significant contribution to the socio-economic development of their countries.

The Antigua and Barbuda government said it “strongly rejects” the claims being made “two convicted money launderers” that a Syrian national had been issued a passport.

The Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU) said it “is compelled, once again, to denounce the false information” by the two individuals who have been carrying-out a campaign designed to damage the CBI in the Caribbean

“The CIU advises that it has not approved citizenship or the grant of a passport to a person by the name of Mohamad Ayad Ghazal, nor does it have any record of his applying for citizenship.

“Further, the Government of Antigua and Barbuda has recalled all passports and are issuing new e-passports, containing all the biometric data of the holders, with effect from June 1,” the CIU said, noting that its “multi-layered due diligence processes, with leading due diligence service providers and intergovernmental law enforcement agencies, remain resilient.”

Meanwhile, the St. Kitts-Nevis government said that it is disappointed that two members of the European Parliament had sought to tarnish the image of the Federation’s CBI program that has entered its 35th year.

“We are very disappointed that two members of the European Parliament should issue a letter to the EU Commission and the President of the European Council to request scrutiny of our program without a scintilla of evidence of any wrongdoing by anyone in our program,’ Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris said, adding that the European had relied on “misdeeds” of the former government “and the inaccurate claim that a Russian citizen of interest to law enforcement agencies was an economic citizen of St. Kitts and Nevis since 2014.

“It is not a good reflection of the reliability and seriousness of members of the European Parliament that they should seek punitive action against any entity without giving the accused the benefit of due process and natural justice and without regard for the consequences of their ill-informed letter, not just for the viability of the CBI program of St. Kitts and Nevis but also for the wider Caribbean.”

Harris said he was calling on the two European legislators “to recall their letters and to apologize to our people”.

Harris said that the CBI programme “has provided the intellectual underpinnings for subsequent programs and permutations thereof by countries such as the USA, Canada, Malta and Cyprus, all of which have their versions of CBI programmes”.

He said for a second occasion, the twin-island Federation will host the Caribbean Investment Summit during the period, June 19-21 that will allow the country to “build a network for greater cooperation and harmonization of the CBI programs in the region.

Harris said he is satisfied that the significant reforms, which have been made to the CBI have transformed it into an international leader amongst all programmes.

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

Trinidad bans importation of all poultry meat from Guyana

Trinidad bans importation of all poultry meat from Guyana

by staff writer

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Jun 1, CMC – The Trinidad and Tobago government has imposed a ban on all poultry products from Guyana “until further notice”.

Duck Virus Hepatitis

A two paragraph statement from the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands and Fisheries, said that “with immediate effect, all and any raw and cooked poultry meat from Guyana is banned from entry into Trinidad and Tobago until further notice”.

It said that such items would be seized upon entry into the country, but gave no reasons as to why the ban had been imposed.

Media reports in Guyana said that the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country has advised of the existence of Duck virus hepatitis (DVH) in a part of the country.

DVH is a highly fatal contagious disease of young ducklings between the ages one to 28 days. Ducklings are most susceptible at the younger ages and gradually become more resistant as they grow older. The disease is rarely seen in ducklings over four  weeks of age.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, CARICOM, Health, Local, News, Regional0 Comments

The Atlantic may see up to 4 Major Hurricanes this season

By Laura Geggel, Associate Editor 

Scientists are predicting a near-normal Atlantic hurricane season this year, with two to four major hurricanes reaching at least Category 3 status, with winds of 111 mph (178 km/h) or higher, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced today (May 23).

But this “near-normal” description doesn’t mean people in the U.S. Southeast and Eastern Seaboard can rest easy.

“That’s a lot of activity,” Gerry Bell, the lead hurricane season forecaster with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, told reporters at a news conference today. “You need to start getting ready for the hurricane season now.”

[The 20 Costliest, Most Destructive Hurricanes to Hit the US]

The 2019 Atlantic hurricane season — which lasts from June 1 to Nov. 30 — is expected to have between nine and 15 named storms, which means they pack winds of 39 mph (62 kilometers/hour) or higher, NOAA reported. Of those, between four and eight could become hurricanes, meaning their winds reach speeds of 74 mph (119 km/h) or higher.

Although just four of these hurricanes may top Category 3 status, “it only takes one land-falling hurricane to cause great destruction to a community,” Daniel Kaniewski, the acting deputy administrator at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) told reporters.

During an average hurricane season, the Atlantic sees about 12 named storms, including six hurricanes and three major hurricanes. Last year’s season was above average, with 15 named storms, including eight hurricanes, of which two were major — the destructive hurricanes Michael and Florence.

However, it’s impossible to know whether any of the storms or hurricanes predicted for the 2019 season will make landfall, said Neil Jacobs, acting NOAA administrator.

The officials added that this year marks the first time NOAA’s fleet of Earth-observing satellites, including three operational next-generation satellites, were used to gather data for the hurricane forecast models. This data also helped NOAA issue a storm prediction for the eastern and central Pacific basins. According to NOAA, the Pacific should expect an above-normal season with 15 to 22 named storms, of which eight to 13 are expected to become cyclones (the term given to “hurricanes” in these parts of the Pacific). Of these, between four and eight could be major cyclones, NOAA reported.

See full story at : https://www.livescience.com/65551-2019-atlantic-hurricane-season.html?utm_source=notification

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Climate/Weather, Hurricane, International, Local, Regional0 Comments

John Gordon DFID OT Dir DSC_7353 web

UK OTs directors urge spending of monies well…


by Bennette Roach

The Foreign and Commonwealth (FCO) Overseas Territories (OTs) and Department for International Development (DFID) (OTs) Directors concluded a two day visit to Montserrat, their final stop speaking with the local media at the Governor’s office on Thursday, May 23, 2019.

The Interview turned out to be too short, as it is most time even though it lasted just about an hour. The two were on a familiarisation tour of the Caribbean and we never got to ask how many and which islands they had visited before coming to Montserrat and after they leave Montserrat.

Premier Romeo
H E Governor Pearce

They were joined by the Hon. Premier Romeo and H E Governor Pearce with Miss Moira Marshall the DFID local representative sitting in the back of the room.

Both gentlemen were making their first visit to Montserrat with the FCO director William Gelling being in post for just of a year while John Gordon DFID director in position for just under three years, neither of them familiar enough to be articulate about conditions regarding Montserrat going back of 2016.

William Gelling

Gelling expressed joy to have visited. “I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to get here,” he said adding that it (Montserrat) is “really remarkable!” as he looked over Plymouth from Garibaldi Hill, “and over the destruction that was wrought over two decades ago and I think a tribute to Montserrat and its resilience…”

As Gordon said speaking after Gelling, after the Governor opened the briefing, he said, “I align myself with all of his comments, I share all of that. It’s really great to be here, we’re really grateful for all the people that made time to meet with us.” Gelling had gone on to say in his introduction, “I think Montserrat can be proud of what it’s done over the last 20 years to pick it up after that really shocking and tragic event. I’ve also been really struck by the warmth of Montserrat and Montserratians and the beauty of the place.”

Gelling having said the above, I would raise later with him, continued though not similar reminded me of then DFID Minister Alan Duncan in December 2011, when he said that ‘no where that Britain has responsibility, has ever suffered what Montserrat has gone through from the volcanic activity.’

Gelling said, “I think Montserrat can be proud of what it’s done over the last 20 years to pick it up after that really shocking and tragic event. I’ve also been really struck by the warmth of Montserrat and Montserratians and the beauty of the place. I don’t think there’s many places I’ve been where you arrive to this enormously verdant scenery, and the level of biodiversity.”

The Governor and the Premier both joined in expressing satisfaction at how the meetings have turned out. The two OTs directors shared a common view, Gordon saying: “We’ve had really productive discussion with the premier and with his team. We met civil society. We met opposition politicians. We’ve talked to a range of people. And that presented a very good picture of Montserrat – This is been a good couple of days. A bit of a whistle-stop visit. But you can do quite a lot in two days, as we found. We didn’t really stop from morning till night, so. Thanks to all those that that helped us to get a clearer picture…”

Gelling had said: “I do feel that we’ve really built a level of trust that I hope will make things going forward, more straight forward, more productive, and I hope will allow all of us to see more results…”

In addition they also said they met with, and, “…we’ve talked to a whole range of people, public servants. And we met with a group of private sector representatives yesterday to talk about what their views are on what they need to happen to enable them to sort of invest more in Montserrat.”

John Gordon

There was a recurring theme from particularly the DFID director regarding the delayed approval of the development funds of £30 million. Repeatedly referring to the funds as substantial, Gordon said: “we approved 30 million pounds which is a substantial amount of money…For a country of moderate size and the size of a public service and its capacity – we think that’s the right amount of money.”

Following discussion on that he concluded: “We have a history in this country of investing in infrastructure and things generally take longer than we expected them to. But that happens in many countries, not just Montserrat. Because infrastructure projects generally aren’t easy to implement.”

Responding to a question as to should those funds get drawn sooner within the five years, will there be a supplement, he said: “My objective and the premier’s objective is to move forward as quickly as possible to deliver effect through that investment.”

“So,” he continued: “I’m not gonna think now about what happens when all the money’s exhausted or if there’s another phase of this. We’ve only just approved this. This is a couple of months in so we’d rather just focus on spending the money and spending the money well, rather than thinking about what more might be down the road.”

The discussion and questions continued, while Gordon concluded: “So let’s just focus on spending the money and if they spend it in 18 months, let’s confront that problem when it arrives.”

Oversight of the funds spent on behalf of and in Montserrat followed and this report will continue…

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AD - MAC - Vacancy Notice Clerk Receptionist

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Digicel defends decision to take court action against government

Digicel defends decision to take court action against government

by staff writer

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, May 31, CMC – The Irish-owned telecommunications company, Digicel, Friday defended its decision to secure a High Court order preventing the Antigua and Barbuda government from confiscating any of the 850 MHz spectrum it has been allocated.

In a statement, Digicel said that it wanted to shield its customers from “significant service disruption and a negative impact on coverage.”

The government is hoping that the High Court will bring about a resolution to the opposition by Digicel and Flow, formerly the British telecommunication giant, Cable and Wireless, to share the island’s spectrum with the state-owned Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA).

Prime Minister Gaston Browne said the two foreignbased companies were resisting the move, but insists that his administration would not allow inequality to continue within the industry here.

In the statement, Digicel said it was “forced into this legal challenge to protect its customers and services from being put in jeopardy” as a result of the government’s “anti-competitive and protectionist decision handed down” on May 8.

According to Digicel, it has been compelled to return a significant portion of its 850 MHz spectrum by May 31, “under what the Government misleadingly describes as a move towards “equitable distribution” of the spectrum.”

But Digicel argued that the government’s confiscation of the spectrum to the sole benefit of APUA and the detriment of Digicel’s customers would result in half of its customer base experiencing significant mobile service disruption “not to mention the broader negative impact on emergency services and other essential services like point of sale terminals and home security systems for a period of at least 18 months, since that is the time it would take Digicel to completely rebuild its network at a cost of at least US$25 million.”Digicel claims that APUA has almost twice as much spectrum as either of the other two operators in the market, despite having less than 25 percent.

“APUA is hoarding a scarce and valuable resource,” the statement said, adding “in any other market, this would be a cause for concern for the regulator, but uniquely in Antigua & Barbuda, APUA is also the Regulator”.

The telecommunication company said as a result APUA “holds the roles of both “referee and player” allowing for protectionist and anti-competitive behaviour to run amok.

“In addition, APUA is well able to operate a quality LTE network with the spectrum it already has; a fact Digicel can attest to, since it operate its LTE networks to a high standard in a similar spectrum environment in Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands, as do other operators within the Caribbean region,” the statement added.

Information Minister Melford Nicholas speaking to reporters after the weekly Cabinet meeting, said that the government had taken a policy decision “that the frequency spectrum, which must be utilised by all mobile operates to operate and conduct their businesses ought to be shared equitable”.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, CARICOM, International, Local, News, Regional, Science/Technology0 Comments

image

Mueller undercuts Barr’s narrative that downplayed the impact of DOJ guidelines against charging a sitting president


By Marshall Cohen, CNN

Updated – May 29, 2019

Trump attacks late senator amid tensions over moving USS McCain

WSJ: White House wanted USS John McCain ‘out of sight’

Pelosi: I am ‘gravely disappointed’ with attitude of DOJ

Trump ally: Mueller press conference was ‘political’

Nadler: Mueller clearly demonstrated that Trump is lying

Sanders: We’re ‘always prepared’ for impeachment fight

Mueller says charging Trump was ‘not an option’

Mueller details the parts of the Russia probe report

Differences between Barr and Mueller are telling

Bennet: My cancer diagnosis could have been disastrous

O’Rourke: Call to impeach Trump isn’t a rushed decision

MCLEAN, VA - MARCH 22: U.S. Attorney General William Barr departs his home March 22, 2019 in McLean, Virginia.  It is expected that Robert Mueller will soon complete his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and release his report. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Barr’s response to treason question called ‘astonishing’

He broke with GOP under Nixon; his advice for them today

Trump: I’m not a John McCain fan, but I didn’t do it

Fact-checking Trump’s Mueller statements

Trump attacks late senator amid tensions over moving USS McCain

WSJ: White House wanted USS John McCain ‘out of sight’

Pelosi: I am ‘gravely disappointed’ with attitude of DOJ

Trump ally: Mueller press conference was ‘political’

Nadler: Mueller clearly demonstrated that Trump is lying

Sanders: We’re ‘always prepared’ for impeachment fight

Mueller says charging Trump was ‘not an option’

Mueller details the parts of the Russia probe report

Differences between Barr and Mueller are telling

Bennet: My cancer diagnosis could have been disastrous

O’Rourke: Call to impeach Trump isn’t a rushed decision

MCLEAN, VA - MARCH 22: U.S. Attorney General William Barr departs his home March 22, 2019 in McLean, Virginia.  It is expected that Robert Mueller will soon complete his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and release his report. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Barr’s response to treason question called ‘astonishing’

He broke with GOP under Nixon; his advice for them today

Trump: I’m not a John McCain fan, but I didn’t do it

Fact-checking Trump’s Mueller statements

Trump attacks late senator amid tensions over moving USS McCain

Washington (CNN)Special counsel Robert Mueller’s public statement Wednesday presented a stark contrast to the attorney general regarding the significance of the Justice Department guidelines against indicting a president.In his own public comments, Attorney General William Barr has leaned heavily on the idea that Mueller did not feel the guidelines are what prevented him from charging President Donald Trump with obstruction.But Mueller on Wednesday undercut that narrative, making clear in his comments that the guidelines had a significant influence on the investigation, tying his hands from the very start from even considering whether a crime had been committed.Indicting Trump while he was in office was “not an option we could consider,” Mueller said, explicitly citing the official guidance from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel.

Mueller: 'If we had had confidence that the President clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so'

Mueller: ‘If we had had confidence that the President clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so’His comments largely echoed the explanation in his 448-page report, which was publicly released in April. The report presented substantial evidence that Trump obstructed justice on a few fronts, but didn’t offer a conclusion on whether he had broken the law or whether he should be charged. The Justice Department and the special counsel’s office issued a joint statement Wednesday evening saying “there is no conflict” between Barr’s and Mueller’s comments about the OLC opinion.

Here’s what Mueller said

In his rare public appearance, Mueller said how he was authorized in May 2017 by then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to investigate obstruction of justice, in addition to the core mission of getting to the bottom of Russia’s intervention in the 2016 presidential election. “As set forth in our report, after that investigation, if we had confidence that the President clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said that,” Mueller said. He then brought up the Office of Legal Counsel guidelines, and later explained how the internal guidelines “informed our handling of the obstruction investigation” in a few different ways. “Under long-standing department policy, a President cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office. That is unconstitutional. Even if the charge is kept under seal and hidden from public view — that too is prohibited,” Mueller said.

He continued, “The special counsel’s office is part of the Department of Justice and, by regulation, it was bound by that department policy. Charging the President with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider.”These comments, plus the extensive explanations put forward in Mueller’s report, make it clear that Trump’s presidential immunity played a major role in the investigation. Mueller knew the rules from the start and they guided the entire outlook of the obstruction inquiry. “So that was Justice Department policy, those were the principles under which we operated,” Mueller said. “And from them, we concluded that we would not reach a determination one way or the other about whether the President committed a crime. That is the office’s final position. And we will not comment on any other conclusions or hypotheticals about the President.”

READ: Robert Mueller's full remarks on the special counsel investigation

READ: Robert Mueller’s full remarks on the special counsel investigation

Here’s what Barr said before

Before Mueller spoke up, much of the public discourse about the conclusions of the probe had been shaped by Barr, through his public statements and closely watched congressional testimony. At times, Barr has cherry-picked Mueller’s report to fit a different narrative that is rosier for Trump.On at least six occasions after Mueller submitted his final report, Barr downplayed the role that the Office of Legal Counsel guidelines had played in the investigation. Examined closely, Barr’s comments may not be technically contradicted by Mueller, because he hedged his words carefully. But these comments were highly misleading and did not broadly align with Mueller’s stated rationale. On the day he released the Mueller report, Barr was asked how Mueller had reached his decision not to offer a formal recommendation whether to charge Trump with obstruction. Barr said he’d defer to the report itself, but then he brought up a meeting he’d had in early March with Mueller, Rosenstein and another top Justice Department official, where the guidelines were discussed.

Nadler on impeachment: 'All options are on the table'

Nadler on impeachment: ‘All options are on the table’“I will say that when we met with (Mueller) … we specifically asked him about the OLC opinion and whether or not he was taking the position that he would have found a crime but for the existence of the OLC opinion,” Barr told reporters. “And he made it very clear several times that that was not his position. He was not saying that but for the OLC opinion he would have found a crime. He made it clear that he had not made the determination that there was a crime.”In written testimony submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee this month, Barr suggested that the investigation should have proceeded like any case against a typical defendant, ignoring the sweeping limitations imposed on Mueller’s team by the Justice Department guidelines. And during the hearing, Barr repeated his comments about the early March meeting with Mueller and continued to downplay the weight of the OLC guidelines on the special counsel’s decision-making. “He reiterated several times in a group meeting that he was not saying that but for the OLC opinion he would have found obstruction,” Barr told the senators. Sen. Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, then asked the attorney general, “If the special counsel found facts sufficient to constitute obstruction of justice, would he have stated that finding?”Barr’s response: “If he had found that, then I think he would state it, yes.”

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Court, Elections, International, Legal, Local, News, Politics0 Comments

Albert Evans

Who won the European election: the alliances that could shape the future of the EU

Albert Evans

Albert Evans – May 27, 2019

The new European Parliament must approve the next head of the European Commission – who will play a large role in Brexit talks

While European elections in the UK have been dominated by domestic concerns over Brexit, the votes cast by the citizens of the other 27 member states will play a key role in shaping the EU institutions that the British will have to deal with in negotiations.

The decline of the two largest groupings in the European Parliament, the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) and the centre-left Socialist’s and Democrats (S&D) has meant a coalition between the two parties cannot gain the 376 seats needed to form a majority.

Spitzenkandidat

The European Parliament on May 11, 2016 in Strasbourg, France. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

With the lead candidate, or spitzenkandidat system, whoever can gain a majority in the Parliament must approve the President of European Commission, the bloc’s powerful civil service, who is nominated by the heads’ member states in the European Council.

The European Council is meeting on Tuesday for the first set of talks about who will head up the Commission. A qualified majority of the Council need to approve one candidate, which means 55 percent of member states, or 16 of the 28, that also must represent at least 65 percent of the EU’s population.

Any decision they take will take into account the makeup of the Parliament, which is a very different picture after the results of the election.

With the EPP and S&D grouping – which UK Labour Party is a member of – unable to form their own majority smaller groupings are now in a prime position to play an greater role in the formation of the next Commission, who will be the UK’s counter party in Brexit talks.

Coalition building

European Parliament Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker

The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE), bolstered by MEPs from Emmanuel Macron’s Republic En Marche Party and the UK’s Liberal Democrats, who made considerable gains in Thursday’s vote, are well placed to capitalise with 109 MEPs.

The grouping, led by outspoken Belgian MEP Guy Verhoftstadt could help form a grand coalition with the two blocs, which could be further increased by the addition of the Greens-European Free Alliance grouping.

Read more: these are all the new UK MEPs

S&D, ALDE and the Greens also have enough seats to form a majority in the parliament without the EPP that has been the largest party in the Parliament since 1999.

A growing Eurosceptic fringe in the Parliament, which includes Nigel Farage’s triumphant Brexit Party, is unlikely to enter any coalition with other groupings that are all primarily pro-European.

Next European Commission President?

Manfred Weber lead candidate for the post of president of the European Commission on behalf of the European People’s Party. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

The EPP’s lead candidate, Jean Claude-Juncker, who has run the Commission since 2014, will make way for the next Commission President but there are suggestions that the institution’s mandate could be extended if talks drag on.

The Parliament will have its first opportunity to approve a new Commission President on 11 July, which with the EPP on 180 MEPs looks likely to be its lead candidate Manfred Weber.

But before that Mr Weber must be nominated by the heads of member states, some of whom do not approve of the spitzenkandidat system, who may try to nominate other candidates, despite his backing from powerful German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Mr Weber is holding talks with other parties, but will be acutely aware that decisions may be taken at a nation state level that means he is never voted on by the Parliament.

It may be sometime before the UK knows just what type of Commission will be on the other side of the table.

Who won the European election: the alliances that could shape the future of the EU – inews.co.uk


While European elections in the UK have been dominated by domestic concerns over Brexit, the votes cast by the citizens of the other 27 member states will play a key role in shaping the EU institutions that the British will have to deal with in negotiations.

The decline of the two largest groupings in the European Parliament, the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) and the centre-left Socialist’s and Democrats (S&D) has meant a coalition between the two parties cannot gain the 376 seats needed to form a majority.

Spitzenkandidat

The European Parliament on May 11, 2016 in Strasbourg, France. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

With the lead candidate, or spitzenkandidat system, whoever can gain a majority in the Parliament must approve the President of European Commission, the bloc’s powerful civil service, who is nominated by the heads’ member states in the European Council.

The European Council is meeting on Tuesday for the first set of talks about who will head up the Commission. A qualified majority of the Council need to approve one candidate, which means 55 percent of member states, or 16 of the 28, that also must represent at least 65 percent of the EU’s population.

Any decision they take will take into account the makeup of the Parliament, which is a very different picture after the results of the election.

With the EPP and S&D grouping – which UK Labour Party is a member of – unable to form their own majority smaller groupings are now in a prime position to play an greater role in the formation of the next Commission, who will be the UK’s counter party in Brexit talks.

Coalition building

European Parliament Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker

The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE), bolstered by MEPs from Emmanuel Macron’s Republic En Marche Party and the UK’s Liberal Democrats, who made considerable gains in Thursday’s vote, are well placed to capitalise with 109 MEPs.

The grouping, led by outspoken Belgian MEP Guy Verhoftstadt could help form a grand coalition with the two blocs, which could be further increased by the addition of the Greens-European Free Alliance grouping.

Read more: these are all the new UK MEPs

S&D, ALDE and the Greens also have enough seats to form a majority in the parliament without the EPP that has been the largest party in the Parliament since 1999.

A growing Eurosceptic fringe in the Parliament, which includes Nigel Farage’s triumphant Brexit Party, is unlikely to enter any coalition with other groupings that are all primarily pro-European.

Next European Commission President?

Manfred Weber lead candidate for the post of president of the European Commission on behalf of the European People’s Party. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

The EPP’s lead candidate, Jean Claude-Juncker, who has run the Commission since 2014, will make way for the next Commission President but there are suggestions that the institution’s mandate could be extended if talks drag on.

The Parliament will have its first opportunity to approve a new Commission President on 11 July, which with the EPP on 180 MEPs looks likely to be its lead candidate Manfred Weber.

But before that Mr Weber must be nominated by the heads of member states, some of whom do not approve of the spitzenkandidat system, who may try to nominate other candidates, despite his backing from powerful German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Mr Weber is holding talks with other parties, but will be acutely aware that decisions may be taken at a nation state level that means he is never voted on by the Parliament.

It may be sometime before the UK knows just what type of Commission will be on the other side of the table.

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

CARICOM chairman speaks out on corresponding banking

CARICOM chairman speaks out on corresponding banking

This challenge is of particular significance for member territory Montserrat having only one bank enjoying any corresponding banking services, as against the other where exists problems in that sector.

by staff writer

WASHINGTON, May 25, CMC – The chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris says one the biggest economic and financial challenges facing the 15-member grouping is the practice engaged by the large global commercial banks to terminate their corresponding banking services.

Harris, speaking at the National Press Club here, said that the global commercial banks were also offering their services at “unconscionable high rates.

“The practice has a harmful effect on the flow of remittances from those living and working abroad to their loved ones and business associates at home who rely on this source of funds to provide for their sustenance.

P M Dr. Timothy Harris, addressing National Press Club

“The practice has a harmful effect on commercial trading activity that disrupts the flow of payments for services rendered. What was once an overnight bank-wire transfer of funds from the US is now taking as many as three months, or more, for delivery,’ said Harris, who earlier participated in a two-day Caribbean Central Bank forum organised by the World Bank Group on the digital economy in the Eastern Caribbean.

Harris, who is also Prime Minister of St. Kitts-Nevis, told the journalists that the “very damaging practice” by the global commercial banks “has the perverse effect of channeling many of these transactions to an underground black market through unscrupulous carriers with no certainty or guarantee of delivery.

“This is particularly harmful to small island developing states such as St. Kitts and Nevis with a large overseas population in the diaspora. The large banks claim that they are seeking to minimize the risks associated with money laundering and terrorist financing to which they are subject to heavy fines for violating Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Combatting the Financing of Terrorism (CFT) regulatory guidelines.”

But he said that the reality is that there is no evidence of significant money laundering activity in St. Kitts and Nevis.

“It is not a major global financial centre. Much of the world’s money laundering transactions take place in the major capitals of the world, such as London, New York, and Delaware. Moreover, every CARICOM country has tax information exchange agreements with the US and major EU countries.”

Harris said that tax information is readily available and is provided through the designated agencies of governments in the United States and Europe.

“There is therefore no sound basis for labeling our small island developing states as “tax havens” or non-cooperating tax jurisdictions,” he said.

CARICOM countries have been critical of Europe in labelling several regional countries as tax havens and earlier this month, the EU announced it had removed Barbados, Bermuda and Aruba from its ts blacklist of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions.

In his address to the National Press Club on Friday night, Prime Minister Harris said that over the past two days, Caribbean countries have been focusing on digital technology and how it can transform the lives of Caribbean people for the better.

He said the world took notice in November 2016 when his twin-island Federation, the smallest independent country in the Western Hemisphere, was honoured at the 14th World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators Symposium with two awards for outstanding improvements in information and communication technology (ICT) development.

He said since then several Caribbean countries, like The Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Jamaica have been ranked within the top 100.

“We understand the importance to our economic growth and development agenda of having a major digital footprint. In this regard, the Digital Economy Moonshot for the Eastern Caribbean hosted by the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank and the World Bank…is a timely and important forum that will help shape our approach and strategies as we seek to build out our digital infrastructure, digital skills, digital financial services, digital platforms and digital entrepreneurship in such a manner to promote digital transformation and economic development.”

Harris said the region aims to transform from mere consumers of technology to innovators and suppliers of digital services” and that the partnership with the World Bank could help the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) to deepen integration through the harmonization of policies and the legislative framework that is critical to the development of the digital economy.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, CARICOM, Local, News, Regional0 Comments

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