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Dominica Opposition party wants answers on Ross University departure

Dominica Opposition party wants answers on Ross University departure

While St. Vincent PM says no blame should be afforded to his regional colleagues on Ross University

ROSEAU, Dominica, Aug 14, CMC – The main opposition United Workers Party (UWP) is calling on the Dominica government to make public the recent 25 year agreement it signed with the US-owned Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) that still allowed for the school to be relocated in Barbados.

“Given the apparent support of Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit for the relocation of Ross University to Barbados, the people of Dominica have a right to full disclosure of the 25-year agreement that allowed this to happen without notice. We need to know what are the unmet government obligations under the agreement that allowed Ross to relocate without breaching the agreement,” the UWP said in a statement.

Earlier this month, Skerrit announced Ross University, which had been forced to relocate its operations to St Kitts and the state of Tennessee in the United States following the passage of Hurricane Maria last September, would be leaving the Eastern Caribbean nation after 40 years.

His announcement was followed by a press conference in Bridgetown where Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley and the president Adtalem Global Education and chief executive officer at Ross University,  Lisa Wardell, announced that Bridgetown would be the new home of the American university by January 5, 2018.

The Skerrit administration said it had informed the RUSM that it could have resumed its operations on the hurricane struck island even before the start of the January semester in 2019.

The island’s ambassador to the United States and the Organisation of American States (OAS), Vince Henderson, speaking on a radio programme last Tuesday night, read from a three-page letter Prime Minister  Skerrit had sent to the university in July indicating that plans were advanced for the resumption of classes in Portsmouth, north of here.

“It is my fervent hope that all things considered there will be a much earlier re-opening of the campus that has been indicated in your earlier communication and during your visit in April 2018,” Skerrit wrote in the July 9 letter to Wardell.

Opposition Leader Lennox Linton

But in its statement, the UWP said that after 40 years of serving as a major engine of economic activity in Dominica, “the Prime Minister found it impossible to negotiate even a phased withdrawal that would give the country at least 12 months to cushion the devastating blow and prepare for adjustments”.

It asked “what exactly does the agreement provide?”

The party said that the circumstances of the termination “allow us to conclude that the Prime Minister failed to deliver on the investment support and public infrastructure improvements that had to be addressed satisfactorily within the context of the agreement to facilitate a return of Ross. What exactly does the agreement provide?

“There was a particular concern about accreditation by the Dominica Medical Board and the future of Ross in Dominica. What exactly does the agreement provide?”

It said that the National Committee on Foreign Medical Education and Accreditation in the United States  is authorized to evaluate the standards of accreditation applied to foreign medical schools and to determine their comparability to standards applied to medical schools in the United States.

“This determination of comparability of accreditation standards by NCFMEA is an eligibility requirement for foreign medical schools to participate in the US government’s student financial assistance program and is therefore extremely important to Ross.

“Yet, under the watch of the Prime Minister who made himself directly responsible for Ross, there has been no determination, for more than 10 years, that accreditation standards in Dominica are comparable to those of the United States,” the UWP said.

The opposition party said “instead of coming clean with the people of Dominica to facilitate learning the lessons that will avert a similar catastrophe in the future, the Prime Minister is busy confusing the issue and creating distractions.”

The party said it has also taken note that both the chief economic and political advisor to Prime Minister Skerrit are Barbadian Avinash Persaud and Hartley Henry, both of whom serve in the same capacity to Prime Minister Mottley.

“These advisors had the inside track on the challenges faced by Ross in Dominica and were no doubt asked to advise both Prime Ministers. What was their advice to their Dominica boss about facilitating Ross to stay in Dominica?

“What was their advice to their Barbadian boss about facilitating Ross to relocate to Barbados? Did they even advise their bosses that they should, as CARICOM partners, meet with the owners of Ross to work out the best way forward for Dominica – a CARICOM Single Market and Economy country that stands to lose the significant development benefits of a 40-year investment relationship?

“Only Barbados is benefitting from this glaring conflict of interest in which the same political and economic advisors serve masters in Bridgetown and Roseau,” the UWP said.

On Monday, St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said he would not blame either his Dominican or Barbadian counterparts for the controversy surrounding the decision of the US-owned Ross University to re-locate to Barbados.

Speaking at a news conference, Gonsalves told reporters that he had received information “from different sources” and he does not believe that ‘anyone can reasonably blame Prime Minister (Roosevelt) Skerrit (of Dominica) of losing Ross University neither can one reasonably blame Mia Mottley of poaching Ross University.

“The matter which comes out stark to me first of all is that the business entity has no loyalty to any country or any community if that loyalty conflicts with what they perceive to be their immediate, medium term long term interest,” Gonsalves said.

No blame should be afforded to regional colleagues on Ross University

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Aug 13, CMC – St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves Monday said he would not blame either his Dominican or Barbadian counterparts for the controversy surrounding the decision of the US-owned Ross University to re-locate to Barbados.

Speaking at a news conference, Gonsalves told reporters that he had received information “from different sources” and he does not believe that ‘anyone can reasonably blame Prime Minister (Roosevelt) Skerrit (of Dominica) of losing Ross University neither can one reasonably blame Mia Mottley of poaching Ross University.

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves

“The matter which comes out stark to me first of all is that the business entity has no loyalty to any country or any community if that loyalty conflicts with what they perceive to be their immediate, medium term long term interest,” Gonsalves said.

Over the weekend, the Dominica government called for an end to the “unwarranted verbal attacks” against the Barbados government as a result of the decision of the university to re-locate after 40 years there.

“The decision to relocate to Barbados was a decision taken solely by Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM). The relationship between Barbados and Dominica is longstanding and amicable. The people and Government of Barbados have always stood with us both in good times and most recently in difficult times,’ Skerrit said in a radio and television broadcast.

The Skerrit administration said it had informed the Ross University School of Medicine that it could have resumed its operations on the hurricane struck island even before the start of the January semester in 2019.

The island’s ambassador to the United States and the Organisation of American States (OAS), Vince Henderson, speaking on a radio programme last Tuesday night, read from a three-page letter Prime Minister  Skerrit had sent to the university in July indicating that plans were advanced for the resumption of classes in Portsmouth, north of here.

“It is my fervent hope that all things considered there will be a much earlier re-opening of the campus that has been indicated in your earlier communication and during your visit in April 2018,” Skerrit wrote in the July 9 letter to the Adtalem Global Education president and chief executive officer at Ross University,  Lisa Wardell.

“I wish to assure you that all the arrangements we discussed for the accreditation for Ross by the Medical Board have been acted upon to meet the desired expectation,” Skerrit added.

Last week,Prime Minister Mottley denied there was anything underhanded by her administration into accepting the Ross University School of Medicine’s move to the island.

“Barbados came into the picture, only when, for Ross University, returning to Dominica for the start of the January semester in 2019, was not an option. This is not and has never been a case of poaching or enticing anyone away from Dominica,” she said in a statement.

Earlier this month, Skerrit announced Ross University, which had been forced to relocate its operations to St Kitts and the state of Tennessee in the United States following the passage of Hurricane Maria last September, would be leaving the Eastern Caribbean nation after 40 years. Hours later, Mottley and Wardell held a press conference in Bridgetown indicating that Barbados would be the new home of the American university by January 5, 2018.

In her statement, Mottley said while she could not speak for or on behalf of Ross, “the hands of the Barbados Government are clean in this matter”.

Gonsalves said Ross University was built in Dominica, recalling that “when Ross went to Dominica in 1978 …they started with 80 students, they would have had a hurricane in 1979…that did not stop them, they were just up and running, they came back.

“They have had other hurricanes. The Barbados government, nobody could tell Ross that there will be no hurricane in Barbados. Barbados has had hurricane in the past.

“They (Ross) have assessed where they are. The back to back hurricanes were probably the occasion, the spark for them having consideration for moving. But they would have assessed that their immediate, long term interest is no longer with Dominica”.

Gonsalves said the decision by Ross was “clearly” not based solely on the weather.

“Look, Grenada is outside the hurricane belt more than Barbados. They say Grenada is south of the hurricane belt but what happened in 2004. Ivan blow down the whole place including the medical school and they build it back better because they saw their long term interest being there in Grenada….”

Gonsalves recalled that when the off shore medical schools were first coming into the region, some Caribbean countries campaigned against them saying “they are bad for the medical profession.

“Now their thinking is clearly different,” he said, adding he is unaware if the medical professionals in Barbados “are yet convinced about having it (offshore medical school).

“It is going to be interesting to see how those medical doctors going to work with the medical students at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. I am sure they would be working out all of those problems and I don’t want to be negative about that, but I come back to the fundamentals that you can’t reasonably blame Roosevelt Skerrit or Mia Mottley.

“The thing is this between the decision to leave somewhere and to go somewhere else is always some period of uncertainty and that has to be sorted out…and they decided they going to Barbados. But basically 40 years of Ross in Dominica, clearly they did not consider that to be of any importance to them,” Gonsalves told reporters.

 

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Government reviewing dress code

Government reviewing dress code

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Aug 15, CMC – Less than a week after the Jamaica government announced it had suspended the no sleeveless policy after reviewing the longstanding practice of prohibiting women wearing sleeveless attire from entry into government buildings, another Caribbean island is following suit.

The Antigua and Barbuda government said it had appointed Social Transformation Minister Samantha Marshall to undertake a comprehensive review of the policy that prohibits people from wearing certain types of clothing when accessing services at government departments.

Marshall said that her ministry has already started the process and is also holding discussions with other Caribbean islands to learn from best practices.

“In the past, we have used what is the old-time sort of thinking in terms of dress code. Right now, we have to appreciate that we serve the people and we have to accept that there are ways in which persons may present themselves,” Marshall told the OBSERVER Media.

She said that if an individual is not dressed in a vulgar manner, he or she should be allowed to conduct their business.

Marshall said that the present policy is not mandated by law, but is a rather a rule that was adopted a few years ago.

“We are in consulting stages, we are hoping that within two to three weeks we can have an initial report to present to the Cabinet and we are hoping very shortly that there will be a change in the policy,” Marshall said.

Last week, Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness in a statement said he has formally given instructions for the suspension of the no-sleeveless policy and instructed a full review of government dress code practices.

“It has been found, that while the practice exists to prohibit persons who wear sleeveless from entering Government buildings through “dress codes” established within particular Ministries, Departments and Agencies, there is no law or official government policy on which these are based. “

“To ensure the formulation of a proper policy, in the medium term, the Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport has been mandated to formulate, subject to consultation, a government dress code policy that is aligned with modern considerations as well as the climatic realities of Jamaica,” the statement noted.

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It is time to move beyond the politics of division and destruction

It is time to move beyond the politics of division and destruction

 

 

 

Contribution – Part 12/2018

 It is time to move beyond the politics of division and destruction

 How can we best build a consensus to rebuild and renew our economy and community?  

BRADES, Montserrat, July 25, 2018 – A basic principle of sound, sustainable democratic self-government is that we must learn to strike policy deals we can all live with, today and tomorrow.  In short, “mis-government by ‘divide and dominate’ gossip, slander, ‘advantage’ and melee tactics will not work.

Yes, we must first remember that Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition is a part of the Government. Repeat: The Parliamentary Opposition is a part of the Government.

(And yes, class is again in session here at TMR, The People’s College®.[1])

For example we have an Opposition Office that is funded through the annual budget, with a “ring-fenced” sum to support its policy analysis, representation of the people and parliamentary roles.

(But, that Office must not be abused through “partisan politicking.” That was a key part of the bargain struck with DfID when the office was created by the initiative of then Opposition Leader, Hon. Mr Donaldson Romeo. And yes, that Office is actually funded based on the “first call on the UK aid budget” principle. That principle, in turn, is built on the even more mocked and dismissed UN Charter Article 73. That’s also where 60% of the recurrent budget and maybe 80 – 90% of the capital budget comes from. Where, the St Helena “yardstick” example,[2] the 2012 MDC “last chance” business case[3] and the ECCB Governor on his recent visit alike point to key UK infrastructure investments working to catalyse local and foreign private sector investment; leading to self-sustaining growth. Indeed, that is the foundation of the recently developed, widely discussed Economic Growth Strategy.[4] Reality trumps rhetoric.)

Similarly, being a part of our government is why there is provision for regular Opposition access to the Government Radio station, ZJB. Where, in a “truly democratic” community, there is room for debate, critique and putting forward a serious, truth-based alternative. For,   a mature Opposition will conduct itself as potentially, the next Governing Majority.

That leads to “the permanent arm of government.” Our Civil Service’s officers – especially the senior ones – must always serve the nation by so serving the present government that they can readily serve the next one . . . and the one after that.[5] In short, red tape driven delay or obstructionism, too close a connection to political figures or parties, or repeated failure to render prompt, true, sound, responsible and prudent evidence-based, objective counsel are unacceptable. Poor service to Jane or John Public when she or he walks in the door is also unacceptable.

Likewise unacceptable is the attitude that where you were born and who your parents are trumps competence, diligence, capability and soundness.

(A quiet word of advice: if being ancestrally Montserratian is constantly used in an unfair,  polarising way, it will create dangerous pent-up, silent rage on both sides.[6] While we are at it, sound “advice” can always be refused, but not without damaging consequences. If you doubt this, ponder the case of the McGregor 1938 Royal Society Report, the 1986-88 Wadge-Isaacs Report and the 1995 VDAP Bulletin 16 warnings about how we were handling the eruption. Yes, eighty years of telling but largely forgotten history.)

Going on to Cabinet [the working Committee of parliament’s governing majority], ever since Plato wrote his telling parable of the Ship of State in his The Republic Bk VI,[7] we have known that a “bridge fight” on the ship of state is suicidal. Or, maybe the Apostle James will be more familiar:

James 3:13 “Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere . . . . 4:1 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder [and this can be by the power of the accusing tongue]. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel . . .”  [ESV. Also see a literal case study in Acts 27.[8]]

No wonder, then, that “mis-government by “divide and dominate” gossip, slander, “advantage” and melee tactics will not work.

How can we do better?

First, by heeding good old Miss Sophia [= Wisdom] as she stands by in the gates and at the street corners, calling out[9]:

Prov 1: 32 For the simple are killed by their turning away [from wisdom],
    and the complacency of fools destroys them;
33 but whoever listens to me will dwell secure
    and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.” [ESV]

Where, parsons and lay preachers of Montserrat, with all due respect, the Bible plainly implies that our pulpits and street corners should also be places of education in true, God-fearing citizenship. Such is undeniably a part of Christian discipleship.[10]

Let us prize truth, responsibility, neighbourliness, prudence and soundness. Next, we have to learn to build reasonable policy cases and build a healthy broad-based consensus on where our nation needs to go. (Why, then is it that ever so many voices avoid or dismiss key steps forward such as the recently developed Economic Growth Strategy[11]? This key strategic document is based on not only analysis of our economic challenges and opportunities but also on a process of broad-based consultation, laying out a ten year path to growth based on a SWOT analysis.)

Next, Economist Kenya Lee’s remarks that were played on ZJB News recently are right: moving to self-sustainability is a generational challenge, it will not happen overnight. Here at TMR, the suggestion: twenty years to get there has repeatedly been put on the table.

Indeed, that is what it took last time, from the mid-’60’s to the mid-’80’s. END

[1]           SHAMELESS PLUG: Check us out just about every week at leading shops here in Montserrat (and at the Library for those who cannot afford $3.00  – the cost of one grease bread). Not to mention, here: https://www.themontserratreporter.com/

[2]           See, TMR: https://www.themontserratreporter.com/de-ole-dawg-part-19-2016-can-montserrat-make-a-good-case-for-catalytic-investments-in-development/ also, DfID remarks, INTRODUCTION (p. 1): https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/67426/DFID-work-overseas-territories.pdf 

[3]           See the DfID 2012 MDC Business Case, esp. p. 4:  http://iati.dfid.gov.uk/iati_documents/4158833.odt also note: http://www.businessenvironmentreform.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/BERF-Montserrat-BE-Capacity-Building_FINAL_31Jan2017.pdf

[4]           See, TMR: https://www.themontserratreporter.com/de-ole-dawg-part-1-2018-what-are-montserrats-economic-realities-challenges-and-opportunities/  and also Caribbean News Now: https://wp.caribbeannewsnow.com/2018/01/09/montserrat-moves-forward-economic-growth-strategy/

[5]           See TMR: https://www.themontserratreporter.com/the-needed-radical-reform-of-our-civil-service/

[6]           We would do well to remember that when our population was dwindling away and the UK was suggesting total evacuation, people from sister Caricom states were invited to come here and help keep Montserrat going.

[7]           Based on the history of the collapse of Athenian Democracy. See: http://www.john-uebersax.com/plato/myths/ship.htm

[8]           See: http://kairosfocus.blogspot.com/2013/01/acts-27-test-1-on-celebrating-new-year.html

[9]           Compare, the classic Consolation of Philosophy, written by Boethius, a high officer of state in Italy just after the collapse of the Roman Empire in the West. It was written while he was awaiting unjust execution on trumped-up charges: https://www.gutenberg.org/files/14328/14328-h/14328-h.htm

[10]            See Rom 13:1 – 13, esp. vv. 8 – 13. Cf. Matt 28:18 – 20 and Titus 2:11 – 14 etc.

[11]          See: http://www.gov.ms/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Economic-Growth-Strategy-Delivery-Plan-Final.pdf

 

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Former Attorney General urges country to put aside partisan politics ahead of referendum

Former Attorney General urges country to put aside partisan politics ahead of referendum

ST. JOHN’S, ANTIGUA, Aug. 16, CMC – Former Attorney General Justin Simon QC, has called on the population to put aside partisan politics in the runup to a referendum on the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), scheduled for later this year.

During an interview on state media, Simon this is what he will be pushing while on the trail to promote the Trinidad based CCJ.

Justin Simon

“I am not saying that people will not have their political difference, but let us sink them in respect to this particular cause.”

Simon, who served as AG under a previous administration of the United Progressive Party (UPP), made comments following  calls by the UPP – now the main opposition party, for the referendum to include more than one item in the context of constitutional reform.

However, the former Attorney General believes that the referendum should remain a one issue initiative.

“I am of the strong opinion and view that the CCJ should be dealt with on its own by itself. We look at the experience of Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines which placed other issues of constitutional reform on the table and that was rejected,” Simon said.

The London-based Privy Council presently serves as the island’s final court and the referendum on November 6 will allow for the population to indicate whether they intend to join the CCJ that was established in 2001.

While many of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries are signatories to the Original Jurisdiction of the CCJ, only Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Guyana have signed on to the Appellate Jurisdiction of the court that also serves as an international tribunal that interprets the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the regional integration movement.

CMC/kb/2018

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Caribbean broadcasters meeting in Jamaica

Caribbean broadcasters meeting in Jamaica

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Aug 14, CMC –Caribbean and international broadcasters are meeting here amidst calls for regional governments to adapt to the new media environment of which social media is now a critical part.

Minister in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Ruel Reid, addressing the 49th annual General Assembly of the Barbados-based Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU), Tuesday, said that it was also necessary for Caribbean societies to guard against insularity as well as to take their place in the discourse in the global geo politics.

“I encourage our governments to adapt to our new media environment of which social media is now a critical part – embrace social media as an additional means to engage with our citizenry, encourage youth participation in our democracies and build trust in our systems.

Minister in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Ruel Reid

“We see the power of the media in the #MeToo Movement – and it is from advocacy against gender based injustices in the West to campaigns for girls to access to education in the East that now cannot be muted given the coverage through multiple media platforms.”

But Reid said that the shift to the online world has also brought many new social problems.

“For example, children and young adults are particularly vulnerable to cyber-bullying, revenge porn, internet addiction disorder and other forms of deeply problematic internet use. One of the worst problems is that some gangs now record their criminal acts, including murders and rapes, which they then post on social media and share via WhatsApp in order to exult in their ‘success’, humiliate their victims, devastate their families and intimidate others. These posts/shares encourage imitation and retaliation, resulting in a vicious cycle of reciprocal violence. “

He said that a less-obvious but equally troubling problem is that as traditional news outlets have become less profitable, they are also losing some of their primary news-gathering and fact-checking capacity.

“The loss of authoritative and independent sources of news means that many people now obtain their information from closed loops of like-minded people, which encourages political tribalism and increases vulnerability to fake news and manipulation via social media.”

Reid said that a number of state agencies, criminal and terrorist organizations and mercenary hackers now have the ability to destabilize countries by penetrating their communications, compromising their infrastructure and manipulating elections with fake news.

He said the cost of a cyber-hack/fake news attack has fallen dramatically as the necessary skills have spread through the hacker community, which means that these attacks are likely to be much more common in future.

“So the critical issue for our countries now is that our regulatory framework must focus on protecting vulnerable persons such as children, adolescents and young adults against malign content; our States must take steps to improve national media literacy.

“Media must ensure that it maintains high media quality with particular regard to factual content, support national and citizen security, and protect the integrity of our democratic systems,” he told the delegates.

Reid recalled that while there had been the Ferguson riots in the United States against the police shooting of an unarmed black teenager Mike Brown in 2014, Jamaica was grappling with the Mario Dean tragedy.

Deane was reportedly beaten while in police custody and later died. That matter is still before the courts. Reid said that the ordinary citizen’s perspectives were amplified alongside traditional broadcast journalists and media houses’ coverage ensuring appropriate focus on the issues attendant on both security and justice.

He said tools available to journalists, civil society and the public at large, such as access to information (ATI) legislation must not be underused.

“Just recently, use of our ATI Act exploded the widely held view that women were not allowed to wear sleeveless shirts and or dresses to conduct business in government establishments, effectively proving a barrier to access timely government services.

“Human rights activist and blogger Susan Goffe utilized the Access to Information Act to request from a number of government Ministries, whether this enforced dress code was originated from any policy document. Following the request it was revealed that no policy prohibited women’s access to government buildings in sleeveless shirts or dresses. The national discourse again ignited, and this is where these discussions can influence policy,” he said.

Reid noted the challenges to the survival of indigenous Caribbean media recognising that the global media industry is in the middle of a profound transformation.

“We have left behind the era in which the media industry was organized and regulated by infrastructure -radio, television, telephone, print etc.-. Today, content flows over many different networks and technologies.”

He said that news, information, entertainment, education, directions, home management and shopping, translations and many other services are all now digital streams that can be directed to the nearest screen.

“Many different services can now be handled on the same networks, and different services can be transmitted on a number of competing networks using different and combined technology platforms. This means that the flow of content is no longer controlled by infrastructure.

“In addition, it is now possible to provide media services without the need to have any local presence at all, or ownership of any infrastructure – other than access to the internet- , which makes it increasingly difficult to regulate effectively within a single jurisdiction, let alone by a given technology.”

Reid said that these changes mean that the traditional divisions by region and infrastructure are becoming less and less relevant.

He said in the new era, consolidated content is the heart of the media world, while infrastructure and devices are delivery channels.

“This has implications for how we will regulate, paying particular attention to what flows through an increasingly diverse array of pipes.

“The media and communications sector today is in the business of conveying both specialized and mass information across the rapidly eroding borders of broadcasting. Television and radio, business and market information, education, entertainment, publishing, advertising, telecommunications, motion pictures, home videos, video games, computer databases, and other information products are all now digital streams which run across different networks, including many that flow through some of the currently unregulated spaces”.

Reid said that content, defined broadly, is now a most critical factor and it is where value is generated and added.

“Content is now the critical determinant of the economic dynamism and prosperity of an economy.

We in the Caribbean must take note that media firms are now competing against technology firms that can operate in unregulated and untaxed spaces while accessing advertising revenue. The traditional media organizations therefore are losing both audience and income.”

Reid said between  2012 -2014 the audience for radio fell from 21 per cent to 19.6 per cent; the audience for Free-to-Air TV fell from 25 to 23.2 per cent and newspaper readership fell from 22 to 20.6 per cent as people switched to the internet and international cable.

He quoted from a 2015 document by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) that argued that the creative economy of which Film and Television and Media Arts & Communications are apart, is an important part of global trade.

“The global market for traded creative goods and services totalled US$547 billion in 2012.  Growth rates stood at 8.6 per cent annually from 2003 – 2013, showing the strength and resilience of the sector despite the economic deceleration of the world economy,” the document stated.

But Reid said that there are advantages to some of the profound changes in the media landscape with one of the most significant gains being the shift from traditional to non-traditional platforms and stimulated many new creative and business ideas, as many people are now both consumers and providers of content.

“News, information and entertainment are no longer the sole province of the traditional creators and distributors of content, the broadcast and print media. In an era of citizen journalists, Facebookers, Tweeters, bloggers and vloggers, the average person is both consumer and creator of content. “

The Assembly which is being held under the theme “Building Resilience to Climate Change: Business, Technology & Content Options for Caribbean Media,” ends on Wednesday.

 

 

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Montserrat Innovation Days to Open this Week

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 By TMR staff

OCTA Innovation Newsletter – Montserrat Innovation Days reveals: The Government of Montserrat is organising Innovation Days in Montserrat on 16th and 17th of August 2018. Innovation Days will be held under patronage of the honourable Donaldson Romeo, Premier of Montserrat, who will personally open the Montserrat Innovation Days. That will be great occasion for local both public and private stakeholders to gather and to exchange relevant knowledge and best available practice in different aspects of sustainable development of the island.

Mrs. Janice Panton MBE

Mrs. Janice Panton MBE, UK and EU Representative for the Government of Montserrat and Chair of the OCTA Innovation will present Association of EU Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTA) and OCTA Innovation, EU funded project for propelling innovation in the OCTs. As an introductory speaker at the Montserrat Innovation Days, Janice Panton will particularly highlight her call upon the heads of the governments of the EU Overseas Countries and Territories to embrace Systemic Innovation for the sustainable development of their territories.

The Premier’s Office on Tuesday this week, provided some more details. The linkages between innovation and sustainable development will be the focus of discussions on Montserrat for the ‘2018 Innovation Days’, being organised by the Government of Montserrat with support from the local Innovation Advisory Board.

The ‘Innovation Days’ are scheduled for Thursday August 16 and Friday August 17 at the Montserrat National Trust starting at 9:00a.m. on both days.  The event will be launched on Thursday morning by Hon. Premiere Donaldson Romeo who will deliver opening remarks. Other speakers scheduled to deliver remarks at the opening ceremony include Government of Montserrat’s UK Representative and Chair of the Overseas Countries and Territories Association (OCTA) Innovation, Mrs. Janice Panton, and Brussels based OCTA Innovation Team Leader, Milan Jezic von Gesseneck.

The Brussels based OCTA Innovation Team Leader and the local Innovation Advisory Board explained that the ‘Innovation Days’ are intended to assist in enhancing sustainable development through innovation solutions for economic diversification.  The event targets both local public and private stakeholders, encouraging exchanges of relevant knowledge and best available practice in different aspects of sustainable development of the island.

During the sessions, Milan Jezic von Gesseneck, will lead a group of EU experts who will provide some lectures and transfer of knowledge on the best EU practices to Montserrat. Milan in particular will share his knowledge and experience in innovation and sustainable development; Innovation, entrepreneurship and green business expert from Trinidad and Tobago, Alan Cooper, will share his knowledge and regional experience in policy support for innovation, entrepreneurship and green business development; while development and tourism expert James McGregor, will bring the best worldwide practice and experience in visitor economy. Some members of the local Innovation Advisory Board will also deliver presentations based on their areas of specialisation.

In addition to the Innovation Days on August 16 and 17, a round-table discussion on the ‘Creative Industry’ is also being planned for Monday, August 20 starting at 9:00a.m. at the Cabinet Secretariat’s Conference Room.

The OCTA Innovation programme assists Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) in propelling innovation and creativity through the organisation of local ‘Innovation Days’. Innovation Days are events held in the OCTs, ranging from one day up to several days, with support from the Brussels based OCTA Innovation Team Leader, and features lectures and trainings from experts.

Creativity in Monserrat has been recognised: handmade craft items specific to Montserrat. Emerald Isle Ceramics won OCTA Innovation BIC Award 2017 in creativity field.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, CARICOM, Government Notices, International, Labour, Local, News, OECS, Regional, Technology, TOURISM, Youth0 Comments

Antigua announces “non-stop” campaign ahead of CCJ referendum0

Antigua announces “non-stop” campaign ahead of CCJ referendum0

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Aug 14, CMC – Attorney General Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin has announced the start of a “non-stop campaign” ahead of a referendum vote in November on whether or not Antigua and Barbuda should make the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as its final court.

The London-based Privy Council presently serves as the island’s final court and Benjamin said that the referendum on November 6 will allow for the population to indicate whether they intend to join the CCJ that was established in 2001.

Attorney General Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin

“We want to make sure Antiguans are brought up to date with the real purpose of the CCJ. So we are starting a campaign, a non-stop campaign from now until the day of the elections.

“I just want to talk with my fellow Antiguans and Barbudans today. Search your soul, search your heart. Are you really independent? Are you really a Caribbean person? How can you say you are independent when you don’t control your Court of Appeal,” Benjamin asked.

Benjamin urged nationals to ensure that they are registered to participate in the referendum, saying that the last date for registration is August 31.

“So you could have your challenges, objections etc. But to get on the final list. The list will be published in October you’ve got to register by the 31st of August this year,” Benjamin said.

The referendum will be held on November 6.

While many of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries are signatories to the Original Jurisdiction of the CCJ, only Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Guyana have signed on to the Appellate Jurisdiction of the court that also serves as an international tribunal that interprets the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the regional integration movement.

Posted in CARICOM, Education, International, Legal, Local, News, OECS, Politics, Regional0 Comments

UN chief appeals to CARICOM states to pay mandatory contributions ‘on time and in full’

UN chief appeals to CARICOM states to pay mandatory contributions ‘on time and in full’

UNITED NATIONS, Jul. 27,  CMC – United Nations Secretary General Secretary-General António Guterres has urged Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and other member states to pay their mandatory contributions “on time and in full,” warning that the global body is “at risk of running out of cash”.

In a letter to UN staff,  Guterres  on Thursday said that he had “written to member states regarding the troubling financial situation facing the United Nations”.

António Guterres – UN Secretary General

The UN chief said it was necessary for the world body to continue delivering on its key mandates.

“Caused primarily by the delayed contributions of Member States to the Regular Budget, this new cash shortfall is unlike those we have experienced previously”, he wrote.

“Our cash flow has never been this low so early in the calendar year, and the broader trend is also concerning:  we are running out of cash sooner and staying in the red longer,” he added.

At the end of June this year, the UN said the amount of money paid by member states for the 2018 assessment stood at around US$1.49 billion. 

At the same time last year, the amount paid to the regular budget was just over US$1.70 billion.

In a table complementing the report, the UN said that, as of Wednesday, 112 member-states have paid their regular budget assessments in full, with only five of the 14-member CARICOM states having done so.

They are –  Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica and St. Lucia.

“I have appealed to member states to pay their assessments on time and in full, and highlighted the risk the current situation poses to the delivery of mandates and to the reputation of our organization,”. Guterres noted.

Speaking to reporters at UN Headquarters here, his spokesman Stéphane Dujarric said  the UN fully understands that some member states operate on different fiscal timetables, “but, unlike in previous years, the cash flow has never been this low, so early in the calendar year.”

He also said the UN does not have much financial flexibility “and relies on member states to pay their dues on time and in full.”

Dujarric said  the UN Secretariat would now be looking into ways of reducing expenses, “with a focus on non-staff costs.”

Posted in CARICOM, International, Local, News, Police0 Comments

DSC_2584

Another key Govt officer Exits

By Bennette Roach

Dr. Jocelyn Clarke-Fletcher

Will Human Resource Officer Dr. Clarke-Fletcher claim constructive dismissal?

The ZJB 6.00p.m. news that same day reported, having obviously received the Deputy Governor’s memo and a release which did not reach TMR until June 27, combining the two: “…Mrs. Cheverlyn Williams Kirnon replaces Dr. Jocelyn Clarke-Fletcher with whom the government of Montserrat severed its employment relationship on Wednesday Dr. Clarke-Fletcher…”

The report noted the absence of any reason from the Deputy Governor’s Office, but noted from the release, “…the Deputy Governor did not give reasons for Dr. Clarke-Fletcher’s termination except to extend thanks to her for services to the government of Montserrat for just over a year and wished her well in her future endeavors.”

The report stated that Dr. Clarke-Fletcher was contacted and who referred to someone who has provided a bunch of lies against her, “intimating that wherever she worked before throughout the region and beyond prior to coming to Montserrat, she had an unimpeachable record. Dr. Clark-Fletcher said because of her strong Christian beliefs, she would leave the whole matter, until she says, when the time is right she will return peacefully to her native Saint Lucia.”.

Immediately following this report, very firm sources confirmed that the suggestion the Government had terminated Dr. Clarke-Fletcher although so intimated, her relationship with Government ended by mutual agreement; upon the realisation that her relationship has become untenable.

Dr. Clarke-Fletcher who came to her post seemingly overqualified had been employed by the Montserrat Government for just about nine months and not “…just over one year,” as the report stated. Dr. Fletcher was emphatic that although it was with grave difficulty as the records will show she had been nothing but professional in carrying out her functions.

Sources informed that attempts were made to treat Dr. Clarke-Fletcher similarly to the way the PMO Mr. Gomersal was treated when his services were terminated, whereby he also was reportedly ‘frogged march’ from his post.

That the Deputy Governor speaking for government gave the initial impression that the HRO lady was fired as hit the road and the airwaves, the government may find itself having to defend a case of unfair dismissal.

The official release following the initial memo which spoke of the ‘severance’ stated: “Mrs Williams-Kirnon, will replace Dr. Jocelyn Clarke-Fletcher whose employment relationship with the Government of Montserrat came to an end effective Wednesday, June 20th, 2018,” and

“The Honourable Deputy Governor, Lyndell Simpson would like to thank Dr Fletcher for her services to the Government of Montserrat for just over a year and wish her well in her future endeavours.”

When it was noted to the Premier that the releases referred to ‘the government’ severing relations with HRMU boss, he not surprisingly denied anything to do with the matter involving very key officers, and that he was made aware of the situation like others. He, however, admitted that the situation was in some respects dissimilar to that of the PMO, but he had nothing to do with the ‘dismissals’.

We have since learnt that the government lost another key officer the Head of Procurement, Taraq Bashir is no longer in its employ under questionable circumstances.

The questions keep surfacing as the confused TC discourse continues, “can the Montserrat Government afford the constant loss of key officers? In whose interest, and at what cost?

Posted in CARICOM, Featured, Local, News, Regional0 Comments

T&T Prime Minister defends delay in signing CARICOM Protocol on Contingent Rights

T&T Prime Minister defends delay in signing CARICOM Protocol on Contingent Rights

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, July 13, CMC – Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley on Thursday defended his country’s delay in signing on to the protocol that gives rights to the spouses and children of people who move within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) under the free movement of skills regime.

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley

Jamaica, Barbados, St Lucia, Grenada, Suriname, and Haiti signed CARICOM Protocol on Contingent Rights on the final day of the 39th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM in Jamaica last week.

The protocol speaks to, among other things, the right of spouses and dependants to access healthcare and education; and leave and re-enter the host country; and the right of the spouse to work in the host country without a work permit.

Prime Minister Rowley said at a post-Cabinet press briefing on Thursday that Trinidad and Tobago is treading cautiously and will sign on to the protocol once it is sure there are no legal issues in the way.

“If an individual accesses Trinidad and Tobago from another territory, that person might have a family and it is the position that the contingent rights of such persons should be acknowledged…without hindrance. The spouse should be able to work and children should be allowed to access school and healthcare. This decision was taken since 2014 but it has not been operationalized by the territories,” he said.

“Once the Attorney General tells me that there is no issue standing in the way of the 2014 decision, Trinidad and Tobago will sign that protocol at the first opportunity and we will then be bound and operationalizing the contingent rights situation.”

Rowley also hit back at comments on social media who criticized Trinidad and Tobago’s position not to immediately sign the protocol.

“I was disappointed to see an attack made…by a person who was completely without any information on this matter. But as is common in Trinidad and Tobago you start by saying you don’t know then you get on your high horse and prance,” he said.

CMC/dp/2018

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

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