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CDB supports regional trade facilitation initiative - CSME

CDB supports regional trade facilitation initiative – CSME

by Staff Writer

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Jun. 4, CMC – The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has approved a recent grant for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), that will make regional trade easier .

On Monday, the Bank’s Board of Directors signed off on CDB’s support of US$43,665 in grant funding to finance completion of the CARICOM Interactive Marketplace and Suspension Procedure Portal (CIMSuPro).

The CDB says the portal’s development makes it easier for CARICOM states to administer the common external tariff (CET), the system underpinning regional trade, which all CARICOM states are required to maintain. The CET is a uniform set of tariffs imposed by CARICOM members on goods from third countries.

The regional lending agency noted that suspension of the CET can be granted to allow importation of goods in short supply within the Region. 

However, information on the actual supply of goods in CARICOM is limited and officials grapple with a high volume of CET suspension requests.

CIMSuPro seeks to encourage more intra-regional trade by allowing buyers to find regionally produced goods as their first option. The portal allows buyers to find appropriate regional products by description or tariff code.

It also provides an on-line mechanism to create a faster process to handle CET suspension requests.

CDB’s funding will support training and technical support for trade officials and traders.

Director of Projects at CDB, Daniel Best expressed optimism that the portal would contribute to a more enabling environment for Regional manufacturers and producers, saying:

“CIMSuPro is designed to take the CSME process a step further by allowing our producers and our retailers to find each other more easily. CSME is intended to give our producers access to the larger regional market and to leverage economies of scale. A fully operational CIMSuPro will bring greater certainty to intra-regional trade.”

The project is aligned with CDB’s strategic objective of supporting inclusive growth and sustainable development as well as its corporate priority of promoting private sector development, competitiveness and innovation.

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Culture plays important role in Region’s sustainable growth, development...

Culture plays important role in Region’s sustainable growth, development…

June 7, 2019

We have had on several previous occasions commented on the fact that culture is important and should be seriously considered when the occasion is warranted. That is expressly so in so many areas of our onward thrust for change and progress.

Consequently, we have always reminded, there is bad and good culture,

we always say. That alone is cause for common sense and seriousness when the topic is raised.

Here are a few excerpts taken from the Thirty-Sixth Meeting of the Council on Human and Social Development (COHSOD) on Thursday, June 6, 2019, at the CARICOM Headquarters in Georgetown, Guyana.

The two-day meeting was being held under the theme ‘Leveraging CARICOM’s Cultural Assets for the Sustainable Development of the Community’. The Secretary-General said that the theme further emphasised the commitment of the Region to develop its rich and diverse cultural assets.

“It has been asserted that Culture should be seen as the fourth pillar of sustainable development, as both an enabler and driver of economic and social development and environmental sustainability, which constitute the three dimensions of sustainable development,”  said Ambassador LaRocque.

In supporting his point, he said further that cultural industries in the Region had out-performed sectors such as agriculture, finance, insurance and construction in some Member States. He, however, said that there needed to be the necessary enabling environment for the creative industries to be more competitive, and to increase their contribution to employment and growth.

Speaking about the Caribbean Festival of Arts (CARIFESTA),

He noted that since CARIFESTA XI in Suriname, a business component – the cultural marketplace – was introduced where managers of venues, international festivals and performing arts, buyers and booking agents were invited to see and network with Caribbean artists.  According to him, that initiative was intended to create more opportunities for the professional development of artists and for the export of their products and services.

Dr. the Hon. Nyan Gadsby-Dolly, Minister of Community Development, Culture and the Arts, Trinidad and Tobago, who gave the feature address at the opening, was also of the view that the theme chosen for the hosting of the Meeting was very relevant, remarking that a paradigm shift was needed to create a more self-sustaining cultural economic cycle.

“We must place ourselves in the driver’s seat – charting together the course for cultural development based on already identified cultural assets – driving the way forward, instead of accepting windfall successes.”

She expressed the view that in addition to developing the creative sector, the Community’s icons and citizens who had made outstanding contributions should be honoured so as to “incentivise” excellence in the cultural sphere.

Hon. Dr. George Norton, Minister of Social Cohesion, Guyana, also posited the value of culture, saying it was time for it to be mainstreamed in the Regional agenda.

He noted that the Community’s culture was dynamic and that the cultural and creative industries would continue to evolve, even while being the key vehicles driving the development of the Region. He encouraged those present to continue to work together to achieve tangible outcomes.

See: Full CARICOM Release:

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Former Prime Minister’s funeral to be held on June 23

Former Prime Minister’s funeral to be held on June 23

by Staff Writer

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Jun. 4, CMC – The state funeral for former Prime Minister Edward Seaga is to be held on Sunday June 23.

The details of the funeral arrangements and related activities were revealed by Culture Minister Olivia Grange on Monday during a media briefing .

The funeral service will be held at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in the Corporate Area.

Grange added that the period of mourning has been declared and will be observed from June 19 to June 22.

“It means that government will not have any social activities; official activities that were scheduled will be postponed where possible; travel by government officials will be limited and the flag will be flown half-mast,” she said.

Ahead of the funeral, Seaga’s body will lie in state at several locations, however, the casket will remain closed at the request of the family.

Seaga’s remains will be interred at National Heroes’ Park.

The government is appealing to the public to also observe “a certain decorum during that period,” she said.

Seaga, Jamaica’s fifth prime minister, died at a Miami Hospital last week Tuesday, following a battle with cancer. 

He died on his 89th birthday.

Seaga, who was prime minister, from 1980 to 1989, also served as the leader of the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) from 1974 to 2005 when he retired from active politics.

Since his retirement from politics, he has been an honorary distinguished fellow at the professorial level at The University of the West Indies (UWI), and also served as chancellor of the University of Technology, Jamaica.

A lifelong sports enthusiast, Seaga was chairman of the Premier League Clubs Association, one of Jamaica’s governing football bodies, from its inception until 2010. He also served as president of the football club of his former West Kingston enclave, Tivoli Gardens.

Seaga is credited with building the financial and planning infrastructure of the country after independence, as well as developing its arts and crafts, and awareness of national heritage. As a record producer and record company owner, Seaga also played a major role in the development of the Jamaican music industry.

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Barbados PM announces sale of LIAT shares

Barbados PM announces sale of LIAT shares

by staff writer

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Jun 4, CMC – The Barbados government Tuesday night formally announced plans to sell its shares in the cash strapped regional airline, LIAT, but insisted that it was committed to regional transportation and would continue to hold minimum shares in the Antigua-based carrier.

Barbados along with Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines are the main shareholders of the airline that employs over 600 people and operates 491 flights weekly across 15 destinations.

Prime Minister Mia Mottley in a statement to Parliament confirmed reports that Antigua and Barbuda would be seeking to replace Barbados as the largest shareholder government by seeking to acquire the shares Bridgetown would be outing up for sale.

Prime Minister Mia Mottley speaking in Parliament (CMC Photo)

She said that Attorney General Dale Marshall would lead the negotiations.

“There is only so much that Barbados can responsibly do at this time given our current circumstances and our current position on the journey which I referred to just now,” she said, having earlier made reference to the island’s multi-million dollar agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to turn around the ailing economy.

“Therefore…notwithstanding our absolute commitment to regional air travel and notwithstanding the fact and given in fact that the studies have recommended a different module and restructuring for LIAT and given the inability of the government of Barbados to do for LIAT in the next five to 10 years what the government of Barbados did for LIAT in the last five to 10 years when we moved significantly to assume major shareholder responsibilities, we have taken the determination, a decision as a cabinet that it is time for us to step back while at the same time allowing other governments to continue with their proposals to restructure LIAT in the way which they have determined.”

Last month, Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne said he had ieceived communication from his Barbados  indicating that Bridgetown was willing to sell all but 10 per cent of its shares in the airline that serves 15 Caribbean destinations.

Antigua and Barbuda currently holds 34 per cent of the shares and if it succeeds in convincing Bridgetown to part with its LIAT shares, would have 81 per cent of the airline.

The government in a statement last month had said that “an offer was made for Antigua and Barbuda to acquire the LIAT shares owned by Barbados, through a take-over of the liability of Barbados to the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).”

The Antigua and Barbuda government chief of staff, Lionel Max Hurst, said that “there are many jobs here in Antigua and Barbuda connected to LIAT and we intend to ensure that those jobs are not lost.

“Many of the route rights that LIAT now possesses would be utilized more fully if Antigua and Barbuda gets its way,’ Hurst said.

Motrley told Parliament that Barbados would not be turning its back on regional transportation or LIAT, adding it would maintain a “minimum shareholding in LIAT should we reach an agreement with our sister governments for them to take over our shareholding with respect to the negotiations.

“We will continue to provide a minimum revenue guarantee, I shouldn’t say continue, we will provide a minimum revenue guarantee on any route that is uncommercial, unprofitable, recognising however that the majority of routes that Barbados is involved in, is in fact profitable with LIAT.

“And it is against this background Mr. Speaker, our commitment continues that such within the last few weeks the government of Barbados would have sent a further one billion dollars (One Barbados dollar=US$0.50 cents) to LIAT and would also have satisfied our commitment to the Caribbean Development Bank with respect to the re-fleeting of LIAT,” she added.

In May, St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said that the shareholder governments had agreed to give further consideration to a proposal by Prime Minister Browne regarding the future direction of the airline.

Gonsalves said he had hoped that the proposal from Antigua and Barbuda would be discussed by the shareholders “before the end of May is out”.

Grenada recently became the latest shareholder in LIAT and Gonsalves confirmed that St. Kitts-Nevis had responded positively to the call for raising US$5.4 million to help the airline deal with its current financial problems.

St. Lucia Prime Minister Allen Chastanet has said that Castries would not contribute any funds unless there’s a significant change to the airline’s structure.

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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.”

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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.

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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”.

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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.

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Dupigny DSC_7248web

New Port development launched

Concept design – Full to be available by August

The Government of Montserrat through the Ministry of Communication and Works on Friday, May 17, 2019, conducted the Montserrat Port Development Project Launch which has been seriously undertaken when Premier Romeo announced in February last year, that the funds had been sourced for the project.

The event was hosted at the Montserrat Port Authority – Ferry Terminal Building, with an overflow of persons who were outside of the small available space, but with the apparent intention to afford guests the opportunity to tour the site and to ask pertinent questions, especially that there is not yet a design for the actual port.

Port Authority manager Joseph O’Garro chaired the proceedings which began with the singing of the Territorial song and a prayer led by Fr. Carlisle Vyphius of the Anglican church.

Following, were welcome and opening remarks by the port manager, referred to as the Chief Executive Officer – Montserrat Port Authority on the program; H.E. Governor Pearce, CDB Representative Andrew Dupigny, Head of Infrastructure Partnerships, Hon. Paul Lewis, Minister of MCWEL, a feature address by Premier Donaldson Romeo and finally a vote of thanks by MCWEL Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Beverley Mendes.

Seated in the front row l-r, Governor, Premier, Minister, Dupigny and PS with CDB officials in the back row

Mr. O’Garro briefly in his opening and welcome outlined what most or all of the remarks noted, that the project will provide safe, secure and modern port facility for Montserrat, that will provide critical access and reduce down-time especially in times of poor weather.

He, again like others, in addressing the down time noted that about 12% of the vessels calling at Little Bay had not come into, or leave or port.

CEO O’Garro and Governor Pearce

The Governor said about the project. “It works with the grain of our small island community and it sort of aligns with the niche nature of our economy,” preceding that with the observation. “Size is not everything, quality and balance are key – it matches the scale of little Montserrat – we aren’t going to get and we don’t want almost 4000 berth cruise ships, hopefully smaller ones – we can host graciously…

CDB’s Andrew Dupigny, who has been with the project from early 2017, in his remarks, noted that, “…On completion it is expected that the new facility will provide direct and positive impact on the  economy with the potential that would increase employment, improved productivity and overall improvements in the business environment.

Andrew Dupigny

Sounding like coming straight out of a business case, he continued to say: “Over the long term the provision of a reliable access and connectivity to the island, the movement of people goods and services would increase its creativity potential which would ultimately positively impact growth – improve the efficiency effectiveness and resilience of the port facility to provide safety and accessibility.” –

When we say that this project goes way, 12 years, further than the Premier would later recall, Dupigny noted “This actually dovetails very well with the government of Montserrat’s ongoing activities to restore access and connectivity to the island,” which he said, “…was articulated in the Hon Premiers presentation of the budget address in 2017 when he declared ‘access is perhaps our single biggest challenge to growth.’”

He connected this to: “CDB’s strategic plan for the period 2015 to 19 similarly recognises, the positive relationship between infrastructure economic growth and poverty reduction.”

 He offered, “Good transportation is one of the main elements that supports national development. A Key success of any project especially a project such as this which will impact every community across Montserrat is the participation of stakeholders.”

“We are therefore extremely pleased to see the enthusiasm evidenced by your numbers here this morning as well as a high level of participation in the workshop that took place over the past few days.”

This was a workshop that this long-standing stakeholder in all Montserrat progress media house was excluded and knew nothing about. Such could very well be to the detriment to any project, except for dishonest follow-ups which in the end will as we say be detrimental to Montserrat.

Minister Lewis was firm in his presentation as he set out the history of loss and difficulties with a port that far than less served the required needs of Montserrat, but finally, “a solution.”

He spoke to how, “with unreliable sea access for the last 23 years Montserrat lost opportunities for economic growth, our country’s people suffered other losses, including vessels running aground and the destruction of cargo vessels; loss of fishing vessels and yachts unable to come into port; cost of goods have increased after additional charges were placed on shipping given the uncertainty of docking on arrival in Montserrat and having to wait, perhaps even leave before returning a second time to off load,” referring to unsuccessful attempts as they try to dock in rough waters, having to return to Antigua – the road to a solution has not been without challenges.

He spoke of the benefits to be gained as the project progresses, as well as the revealing that, “The project will also provide employment for 72-100 workers over 18 months to two years.

With all other requirements in place and September this year, for a design and build contractor will take place, thereafter, the successful company will be mobilizing to start work by the end of the year

Funding for this project, after a £23 million offer by the UK was turned down (technically) in early 2014, came with a £14.4 million grant to GoM from the UK government via the United Kingdom Caribbean Infrastructure Partnership Fund (UKCIF), augmented by another £7 million budgetary support from the European Union.

With the (CDB) making an initial allocation for the project, advised to GoM in July 2016, an application for the grant made in March 2017, the agreement between the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the Government of Montserrat for £14,400,000 was signed by Premier Romeo on Wednesday, April 11, 2018.

Premier Romeo and Minister Lewis

The Premier was set to deliver the feature address for the event. He, following what took his Government nearly three years to get to this point, recently accessing the needed additional funds, he was relieved probably more than excited.

“Today, marks one of the first, breakthrough step towards the fulfillment of a twenty four-year old hope for Montserrat; a protected sea port here in the safe zone.  Yes, the first safe harbour in Montserrat’s history,” he began.

He continued by recalling as many of the arguments that had no doubt, like Dupigny recalled, made in the business case that had to be presented for the port. He quoted DFID: “The principal barrier to economic growth and development on the island is poor physical access.. . . Without the development of Little Bay and Carr’s Bay, improved access, and reduced costs of doing business, Montserrat will remain uncompetitive in attracting [Foreign Direct Investment].”

So he told an appreciable number of many of whom were invited for the event. “The port development project is therefore one of the strategic keys for unlocking growth and building Montserrat’s future.” 

Concurring that this key we will open up the door for local and foreign investment and for self-sustaining, private sector led growth, he added: “It will create jobs during the construction phase, and it will provide more reliable docking for Cruise ships and for cargo vessels.”

Like other speakers he pointed out that “due to rough seas…out of a total of 478 calls, vessels were unable to berth 58 times…one vessel out of every eight had to turn back. “Yes, that is not sustainable. We had to fix the problem,” he said

That’s why a safe harbour “is of vital importance in providing connectivity to the island of Montserrat and for supporting economic activity.”

He reminded of earlier attempts at building a port, that the Government of the day had envisioned a sea port development in Carrs Bay, and it had actually knocked down part of Gun Hill to facilitate the project.

With no design yet in place for the current project, he noted that in the previous case, a design was made and developed, being presented to the public at 60% and 90% points. “But, alas, it was very costly and suitable private sector partners were hard to secure,” but giving no details of the contrasts.  

He recalled also a statement made by former Chief Minister John Osborne, deceased, in the aftermath of Hurricane Hugo on July 30, 1990: “With assistance in developing its infrastructure, including a proper airport and a safe harbour, Montserrat could develop a viable economy and opt for independence.”

Before closing his address, the Premier gave an insight as to how the project will move from this launch. “First, through presentations and workshops that have been going on for a few days, we look at preliminary designs, then adjust towards a preferred option. The preferred option will then be fully developed as a technical design, starting in August. Then, once that design is completed and accepted, construction will begin.

He revealed that “Construction will take considerable time, over a year,” with a caution. “However, we must always recognise that we are dealing with the sea, which has its own power, its own ways and its own voice; which can force changes to our proposed schedules.”

He concludes after thanking several key authorities, Minister Lewis, UK govt and other key personel, and then: “Let us see, how we can work together as a people as we put in place one of the foundation stones for building our future.”

Discussing the possible design

The P:S gave a fairly descriptive and comprehensive vote of thanks, praising the Ministry and staff for the work done so far on the project and hosting the morning’s event which ended with people looking at and discussing the site from the concept drawing.


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Expert warns of Caribbean heat season

Expert warns of Caribbean heat season

By Kenton X. Chance

PHILLIPSBURG, St. Maarten, May 24, CMC —  A Caribbean climatologist says that while the Caribbean is best known for having wet, dry and hurricane seasons, a little known fact is that the region also has a distinct heat season.

Cédric Van Meerbeeck, climatologist at the Barbados-based Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH) says that since about 1995, the Caribbean has had a distinct heat season which lasts from about May to October and is forecast to be more intense this year that the last two years.

“But the heat season is something that didn’t happen in the past. Yes, people feel more comfortable and sometimes even cold around Christmas time and you know that it gets hotter towards September. But it’s not really common knowledge that there is a six-month period that noticeably warmer than the other part of the year and that is May to October….

“And during that heat season, you find that the levels of heat discomfort and heat stress [increases] so that’s impacting your health, also the health of some animals,” Van Meerbeeck said, adding this has implication for comfort levels as well as major sectors in the region, such as tourism and agriculture.

He told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) on the side-line of the Caribbean Climate Outlook Forum (CariCOF) that while the heat season peaks in September, the region has its most heat waves between August and October.

“Heat waves might not look as extreme as they are in some desert areas or some part of the United States and other regions. However, they do impact us because mostly that’s also the time of the year when the humidity is high,” Van Meerbeeck explained.

“When humidity is high, your body doesn’t cool as effectively as when the air is quite dry and so you feel more heat stress even though the temperature does not increase immensely,” Van Meerbeeck said, urging people to stay as cool as possible, especially from August onward.

The climatologist said that for the first half of the heat season, the air is still relatively dry, therefore, the temperatures are not necessarily so uncomfortable.

“But it is really that second part of the heat season that we want to warn against. Keep cool; don’t go in the sun in the middle of the day; seek shade, seek ventilation in your homes.

“If you have an AC, make sure you run the AC while you sleep so that your brain and your body can recover better and that you can function normal in the face of the heat,” the climatologist advised.

“Last year, we were quite fortunate that there were not many heat waves. It was not that brutal. A comparable season would have been 2016 when we really had a lot of heat between August and October.”

Van Meerbeeck said the cause of the higher temperature is the rising temperatures of the ocean, which releases heat into the atmosphere during the heat season.

“It doesn’t change the weather much from day to day, but over longer periods of time, it does affect the amount of energy that is in the atmosphere and therefore that is the temperature that you feel,” the climatologist said, adding this is definitely linked to climate change.

“And this is one of the clearest links that we observe in the Caribbean beside sea level rise. The increasing temperature now means that even though we didn’t have a heat season outside of maybe August to October in the past, now you find that heat waves actually occur for a longer period of time every year in the warmer years particularly.

“But now, in the cooler years, you now have heat waves. That didn’t used to be the case up until about 1995. It’s really something recent, where the trend of temperate going up with climate change is really affecting the heat level that we have in the season.”

He said this has implication for agriculture and fisheries, especially the livestock subsector and fish, especially in the northern Caribbean, that are sensitive to the heating of the sea surface.

“But for livestock, it’s important to also provide cooling for them. For us that is important. Maybe ethically that’s one thing but also in terms of our food security, our protein stock really comes from chicken and chicken are amongst the most sensitive animals to excessive heat especially broilers.”

Van Meerbeeck said it is a good practice to keep poultry birds cool “so you can to make sure that your chicken stock does not reduce and does not experience that heat stress which leads to less protein being available at a reasonable cost for us”.

As regard tourism, the climatologist said that heat is not that much of a problem as long as awareness is built with tourists.

“But they should really do their best to keep cool whenever they can, stay hydrated, seek the shade, seek well-ventilated places; if you go in the sun, don’t go in the middle of the day,” Van Meerbeeck said, adding that hotels should also remind tourists to stay cool.

Posted in CARICOM, Climate/Weather, Environment, Local, OECS, Regional, Science/Technology0 Comments

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