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Sailing vessel sinks – two rescued

CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Nov 18, CMC – Two people were airlifted to safety via helicopter  after their sailing vessel – ‘Tyago’, sank between St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
RescueThe marine authorities reported that a search for the two began late Thursday.
Two ships in the area – the French flagged ‘Club Med 2’ and the Liberian registered container vessel ‘San Cristobal’, took part in the search and rescue operation along with the  French navy frigate ‘Ventose’.
The two men, whose identities have not been released, were hoisted to safety by helicopter after spending  five hours in the water clinging to a cooler.

 

 

Prince of Wales tours hurricane ravaged BVI

The Prince of Wales, Prince Charles made his first visit to the British Virgin Islands on Saturday for a first hand look at the devastation caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

photo credit : BVI news
photo credit : BVI news

Accomanied by British Member of Parliament Penny Mordaunt, Secretary of State for the Department for International Trade, the Prince briefly toured Tortola and met local communities to hear about the ways they have been recovering since the BVI was hit by the hurricanes.

Charles also visited the Youth Empowerment Project (YEP), “which has fought back since the storms to get up and running.

“There, he met some of the young people who have been a part of new support programs, which encourage them to talk about storm experiences and equip them with practical life skills to cope with difficult living conditions,” said the BIV Government in a statement late Saturday.

Prince Charles who is also the President of Red Cross, visited the local branch where he was introduced to a  several volunteers, including Deniese Gardener, “who risked her life in the middle of the storm, along with two others, to rescue a local woman.

This was Prince Charles’ first official visit to the BVI  and the first Royal visit since the Duke of Gloucester in March 2012, the statement said.

“I was honored to welcome His Royal Highness to the Virgin Islands to show him the devastating impact of Hurricanes Irma and Maria,” said Governor Augustus Gaspert.

“Their destructive force was unprecedented, and the lives of many on the island are still challenging. But, with the incredible community spirit and support from friends overseas, we are now on the road to recovery.

“It has been inspiring to see the resilience of our community over these last two months, and it was my pleasure to share this and a few stories of the heroic acts since then with His Royal Highness,” the governor added.

“It is important that the Virgin Islands, our challenges and our recovery remain at the front of people’s minds around the world,” Gaspert continued. “There is still a lot to do, and I continue to work with the premier to ensure we progress with the recovery plan.”

Caribbean island-nations take climate response into their own hands

BONN, Germany, Nov 19,  CMC – Caribbean and other island-nations, with no time to lose, are taking climate response into their own hands.

Following two weeks of negotiations on bolstering the Paris Climate Change agreement, leaders on Friday said their hopes that island issues would take center stage have mostly been dashed.

Climate ChangeThe New York Times reports that almost none of the measures to help their countries adapt to the impacts of global warming have been resolved, and few delegates said they were hopeful the final hours of talks would bring decisions.

“I’m anxious, and I’m fearful,” said Prime Minister Allen Chastanet of St. Lucia.

“It can’t be that a prime minister’s only resource is to get down on his knees on the side of a bed and pray.”

From rising seas to the loss of fresh water, islands are among the most vulnerable nations to global warming, the Times said, noting that hurricanes, expected to become more ferocious with climate change, pummeled Caribbean island-nations into crisis this summer.

Hurricane Irma destroyed nearly every car and building on the the island of Barbuda and swelled the population of Antigua overnight as thousands of Barbudans sought shelter. Hurricane Maria knocked out power across the United States Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico and left Dominica in tatters.

Small islands also are among the smallest contributors to climate change, producing less than 1 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and leaders of the industrialized world said they owe some recompense for the disasters these vulnerable nations will suffer in the years ahead.

“The very thing that makes them wealthy is contributing to our vulnerability,” said Prime Minister Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda. “It’s only fair that they provide some level of compensation.”

But it’s reported that hopes are waning that Caribbean island-nations will see a major increase in financial support to help address the consequences of climate change.

On Friday, here created an expert group to formally include the issue of helping vulnerable Caribbean and other countries with immediate needs, known as loss and damage, in the United Nations climate process.

But the Times said “there is no money attached to it, though, nor means to raise any.”

So far, it said the biggest news came midweek, when Germany and Britain announced funding for a long discussed partnership to promote insurance coverage   in island-nations vulnerable to disasters.

“It can help people recover from floods or cyclones. But it doesn’t help against slow onset events like sea-level rise — no one will insure against that,” said Harjeet Singh, global head of climate change for ActingAid.

He also noted that many of the details of the new insurance proposal were still vague, like how much relatively poor island countries would have to pay in premiums.

The UN Climate Change Conference (COP23) wrapped up, with delegations expressing a renewed sense of urgency and a need for greater ambition to tackle climate change.

The conference, which ran from November 6-17, was chaired by Fiji, an island-state particularly affected by the impacts of climate change. The Fiji Presidency announced an agreement on a Gender Action Plan, highlighting the role of women in climate action.

Apart from negotiations among Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) , the UN said several new climate action initiatives, commitments and partnerships were announced by states and non-state actors in the areas of energy, water, agriculture, oceans and coastal areas, human settlements, transportation, industry, and forests.

Climate finance and climate resilience were also at the center of the discussions at the conference, the UN said.

It said more than 20 countries, including the Canada, Finland, France, Mexico, and the United Kingdom, launched a new global coal alliance aimed at achieving the rapid phase-out of existing traditional coal power and at placing a moratorium on any new traditional coal power stations without operational carbon capture and storage.

The conference took place one year after the entry into force of the Paris Agreement. The agreement, which was adopted by the 196 Parties to the UNFCCC in December 2015, calls on countries to combat climate change by limiting the rise of global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius and strive not to exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius, the UN said. On Friday, 70 Parties have ratified the treaty.

A week before the opening of the conference, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) announced that the levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere surged at “record-breaking speed” to new highs in 2016.

The UN said COP23 will be followed by a series of summits and conferences on climate change, which are scheduled ahead of the UN Climate Summit in September 2019, including the “One Planet” summit to be convened by France next month.

The “One Planet” summit focuses on financing, a gathering in California, bringing together non-State actors, and the COP24 in Katowice, Poland, in December 2018, the UN said. Brazil has offered to host COP25 in 2019.

Britain providing more aid to hurricane ravaged Caribbean countries

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Nov 20, CMC – Britain is providing more financial assistance to Antigua and Barbuda as well as Dominica to help recovery and long-term reconstruction on the islands following the devastation caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in September.

International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt, who accompanied Prince Charles on a visit to the two hurricane ravaged countries over the weekend, set out a new £15 million (One British Pound=US$1.32 cents) package for Dominica and Antigua and Barbuda. Dominica will receive £12 million and Antigua and Barbuda three million pounds.

Maria 55
Hurricane damage in Dominica (File Photo)

The visiting British government official said this in addition to a further £15 million recently allocated to the affected Overseas Territories.

“We can be proud that in their time of crisis the United Kingdom stepped up to provide the vital immediate relief that was fundamental in getting these islands back on their feet,” said Mordaunt.

“The UK aid mission was huge, covering small islands stretching more than 1,000 miles apart, where buildings, airports and infrastructure had been razed to the ground. I want to pay tribute to the governments of the Overseas Territories, our humanitarian staff and to the military effort, which has been absolutely essential in delivering relief.

“Now as we move on from the immediate response phase, on to the long-term future of the islands, Britain will continue to stand by people whose lives were devastated. We are also talking to the international private sector who can support the reconstruction efforts to make sure the islands can build back, and better,” she added.

The support package, which brings the total UK contribution to £92 million, will include £10m to help Dominica to rebuild critical infrastructure damaged during the hurricanes. The United Kingdom’s contribution to Dominica also includes an additional two million pounds for early recovery, building on the five million pounds committed in September.

London said that for Antigua and Barbuda, it stands ready to assist with a three million pound  fund which will be deployed once the priorities for reconstruction on Barbuda are agreed with the local government.

For the Overseas Territories of Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands and Turks and Caicos, the £15 million is delivering accelerated power reconnection and support to prisons, repairs to air and sea ports and support for policing. This is short-term funding to aid the territories’ early steps to recovery.

At the World Bank meetings last month the UK announced a private sector task force will mobilise business to play a prominent role in the reconstruction in the Overseas Territories.

The task force will identify and drive forward practical ways of increasing flows of private sector financial support to reconstruction in the region.

Mother’s drugs conviction quashed but son gets extra six years

November 20, 2017
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HAMILTON, Bermuda, Nov 20, CMC  — The Court of Appeal has quashed a mother’s conviction for money-laundering, but has increased her son’s sentence for running a drug-smuggling operation by six years.

court rulDenise Morris, 55, was given a 12-month suspended prison sentence earlier this year after a jury found her guilty of possessing more than US$15,000 in criminal proceeds that prosecutors said her 26-year-old son Damon had earned from drug dealing.

The mother appealed against her conviction and the Crown appealed against the 12-year sentence given to her son on the grounds it was too low.

The son was initially jailed for 12 years for orchestrating a major drug smuggling operation to import large quantities of heroin and cocaine into Bermuda.

The Court of Appeal has overturned the mother’s conviction and ruled there was no evidence to suggest that the money found in her bedroom closet was the proceeds of crime.

The panel also found that trial Judge Charles-Etta Simmons had erred by not dismissing the charge against the mother at the end of the prosecution’s case.

The appeal judges also ruled that Justice Simmons should have added an extra 50 per cent to the son’s prison term due to the seriousness of the drug offences and increased his sentence to 18 years.

Jurors heard at the original Supreme Court trial that in December 2015 an airline passenger was stopped as he arrived at L.F. Wade International Airport.

An X-ray revealed that he had swallowed several items that he later excreted and were found to be 86.38 grams of heroin with a street value of US$253,380.

Police later arrested Damon Morris on conspiracy to import controlled drugs after an investigation.

Opposition party files new motion in a bid to have ballot boxes inspected

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Nov 20, CMC – Attorneys for the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) have filed an amended motion for inspection of the ballots and counterfoils used in at least one constituency in the 2015 election that was won by the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) of Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.

In addition, the lawyers have filed a supplemental affidavit in support of the amended draft order being sought by Ben Exeter, the NDP’s candidate in Central Leeward, who has brought one of two petitions challenging the outcome of the vote.

ball“The key objective is to clarify further for the court the particulars based on which it should make the order for inspection of the used ballots and counterfoils in all 15 ballot boxes,” a source with knowledge of the case told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC).

The motion comes up for hearing on December 12 and 13.

Exeter’s case is essentially that all ballots were designed contrary to how the election rules prescribed.

The NDP’s legal team is arguing that as a result of this alleged flawed design, the presiding officer handled the ballots improperly, and invalidated them by omitting to endorse the official mark and/or by the official mark appearing on them in such a manner that over 90 per cent of the ballot could not be folded so that the initials of the presiding officer and the official mark can be seen without opening them, as required under the Rules.

The NDP’s legal team is also arguing that the returning officer, Winston Gaymes, counted all these “invalid ballots” at the final count — against Exeter and his representatives’ objections.

The attorneys said the Organization of American States (OAS) report on the election confirmed this and that Gaymes swears under oath he counted the ballots despite his knowledge that all the ballots cast at polling station CLF were invalid pursuant to the rules.

The lawyers for the NDP are asking the court to order Supervisor of Elections Sylvia Findlay-Scrubb to deliver to the Registrar of the High Court the documents relating to the election held in Central Leeward on December 9, 2015.

They are also asking the court to grant an order that the Registrar of the High Court open the ballot boxes in the presence of Exeter and/or his representatives and that permission be granted for the Registrar and the petitioner and or his representatives to inspect all ballot papers contained in the ballot boxes with a view to determining the accuracy of a number of allegations.

Gonsalves led the ULP to an 8-7 victory in the December 2015 polls for a fourth consecutive term in office.

POLITICS-CCM concedes challenges with implementing integrity legislation

CHARLESTOWN, Nevis, Nov 20, CMC – The leader of the ruling Concerned Citizen’s Movement (CCM), Mark Brantley, says his party if re-elected to office will bring into effect the Integrity in Public Life Ordinance “a matter of urgent priority”.

The CCM had come under criticism from the main opposition Nevis Reformation Party (NRP) regarding the delay in bringing the integrity legislation into effect following its passage in the Nevis Island Assembly (NIA).

Brantleyy
Mark Brantley (File Photo)

“I can assure the public this is a matter that is very important to us and will be operationalized in the next term of the Concerned Citizens Movement as a matter of urgent priority,” Brantley told WINN FM radio station here.

Brantley, who is also the Deputy Premier of Nevis acknowledged that “some issues raised in some quarters as to the scope of the bill …was quite extensive…

“So we had to go back to the drawing board in relation to that and so that ended up leading to considerable delay. There was of course legislation passed in St Kitts at the federal level and there was a question of how those two would interact,” he told radio listeners.

Former attorney Patrice Nisbett had been critical of the NIA for not implementing the legislation which the CCM had brought to Nevis parliament shortly after its election to office. He said under the CCM there is rampant corruption in government, which is what Integrity in Public Life legislation is designed to safeguard against.

“They told you that there was no decency, there was no integrity, they told you that corruption was rife within the NRP led administration. They told you that they were going to return integrity and honesty and decency to government.

“In 2013 the Nevis Island Assembly passed an Integrity In Public Life ordinance and you know up to today that ordinance has not commenced. It is there gathering dust on the statute books of Nevis, it was not meant to gather dust, it was meant to ensure that there was accountability, transparency and integrity in public life in Nevis,” Nisbett said, adding “and I’m sure you have heard from various quarters the rampant and open nepotism that is occurring over on the island of Nevis.”had campaigned on a good governance and transparency platform in the last election, but political observers note that the Integrity in Public Life Act passed by the then Denzil Douglas-led government in September 2013 has not yet gone into effect.

Colourful dancehall deejay Ninjaman guilty of murder

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Nov 21, CMC – Desmond Ballentyne, the colourful dancehall deejay known as “Ninjaman” will re-appear in court on December 15 for sentencing after he and two other persons including his son, were found guilty of murder on Monday.

The seven-member jury deliberated for more than three hours in the Home Circuit Court before returning the guilty verdict against the singer, his son, Janiel, and Dennis Clayton. The three were accused of the murder of Ricardo Johnson, also known as “Trooper”, in March 2009.

NinjamanNinjaman was found guilty of murder and shooting with intent, while his co-accused were convicted of murder after the jury heard testimony from the main witness whom the prosecution named only as “Witness A”.

He was arrested in 2009 and remanded in custody for three years before being offered bail.

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Paula Llewellyn told reporters that the murder had its foundation in a domestic dispute between two tenants that escalated on March 16, 2009 and continued the following day.

“One tenant contacted her granddaughter, who was the babymother of Clayton. The other tenant basically had ‘Witness A’ dealing with the matter. Out of that threats were issued and the following morning, on the 17th of March, 2009, Desmond Ballentyne, his son Janiel, and Dennis Clayton returned to the scene,” Llewellyn said, adding that just before the shots were fired, Ninjaman and his son were seen with guns.

The DPP said that on March 17, Johnson, who had gone to visit his friend, who was inside the yard talking when Clayton and other men, including Seymour Samuels, who was also accused but has since died.

An argument developed between Clayton, Johnson and the key witness; however, Clayton and his friends left the yard. But shortly after there was a stone-throwing incident between the parties after which Clayton threatened to kill the witness, according to the DPP.

She said Clayton, who was armed with a cutlass, was seen among a group of people who were talking and pointing in the witness’s direction.

Shortly after, Janiel Ballentyne was seen in a motor car that drove to Johnson’s gate and stopped. He alighted and confronted Johnson and ‘Witness A’ .

Subsequently, the men went to their respective homes on Lower Marl Road. Minutes later, Johnson went to the witness’s house.

Hours later the car returned with Ninjaman, his son, and Clayton who all threatened to kill the men.

The DPP said that in an attempt to get away both men went through a hole in a fence. The witness said he saw Johnson, armed with a cutlass, chopping and pushing the fence to prevent his attackers from entering through the hole.

“So in all the circumstances, the Crown used circumstantial evidence to infer that not only were they properly identified, not only were Jeniel and Desmond Ballentyne armed with guns, but that they were the persons who fired, causing the demise of Ricardo Johnson,” Llewellyn said.

US government ends TPS for Haitians

By Nelson A. King

WASHINGTON, Nov 21, CMC – The United States government Monday terminated Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for nearly 60,000 undocumented Haitian nationals living in the United States.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Acting Secretary Elaine Duke said she made the decision to terminate the TPS designation for Haitians, with a delayed effective date of 18 months, “to allow for an orderly transition before the designation terminates on July 22, 2019.”

TPS haitiaDuke said the decision follows then-Secretary John Kelly’s announcement in May 2017 that Haiti had made “considerable progress, and that the country’s designation will likely not be extended past six months.

“The decision to terminate TPS for Haiti was made after a review of the conditions upon which the country’s original designation were based and whether those extraordinary but temporary conditions prevented Haiti from adequately handling the return of their nationals, as required by statute,” Duke said.

“Based on all available information, including recommendations received as part of an inter-agency consultation process,” Duke said, adding that she determined that “those extraordinary but temporary conditions caused by the 2010 earthquake no longer exist.

“Thus, under the applicable statute, the current TPS designation must be terminated,” she said, stating that she met with Haitian Foreign Minister Antonio Rodrigue and Haitian Ambassador to the United States Paul Altidor recently to discuss the issue.

Duke said that, in 2017 alone, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (UCIS) conducted “extensive outreach to the Haitian communities throughout the country.”

She said these included but were not limited to community forums on TPS, panel discussions with Haitian community organizers, stakeholder teleconferences, regular meetings with TPS beneficiaries, news releases to the Haitian community, meetings with Haitian government officials, meetings at local churches and listening sessions.

Since the 2010 earthquake, Duke said the number of displaced people in Haiti had decreased by 97 per cent.

“Significant steps have been taken to improve the stability and quality of life for Haitian citizens, and Haiti is able to safely receive traditional levels of returned citizens. Haiti has also demonstrated a commitment to adequately prepare for when the country’s TPS designation is terminated.”

In May 2017, Kelly, now White House Chief-of-Staff, announced a limited extension for Haiti’s TPS designation, stating that he believed there were indications that Haiti – if its recovery from the 2010 earthquake continued at pace – may not warrant further TPS extension past January 2018.

At the time, Kelly said that his six-month extension should give Haitian TPS recipients living in the United States time to attain travel documents and make other necessary arrangements for their ultimate departure from the United States, and should also provide the Haitian government with the time it needs to prepare for the future repatriation of all current TPS recipients.

“To allow for an orderly transition, the effective date of the termination of TPS for Haiti will be delayed 18 months,” Duke said, adding “this will provide time for individuals with TPS to arrange for their departure or to seek an alternative lawful immigration status in the United States, if eligible.

“It will also provide time for Haiti to prepare for the return and reintegration of their citizens,” she said, noting that, during this timeframe, USCIS will work with the State Department, other DHS components and the Government of Haiti “to help educate relevant stakeholders and facilitate an orderly transition.”

Duke said Haitians with TPS will be required to reapply for Employment Authorization Documents in order to legally work in the United States until the end of the respective termination or extension periods.

The decision, while not a complete surprise, set off immediate dismay among Haitian communities in South Florida, New York and beyond.

Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, is still struggling to rebuild from the earthquake and relies heavily on money its expatriates send to relatives back home, the New York Times reported on Monday.

The decision to terminate TPS for 58,000 Haiti nationals living in the US comes 14 days after DHS announced it was terminating TPS for 2,500 Nicaraguans and delaying a decision for 57,000 Hondurans, which automatically gave them a six-month extension after their current status expires in January.

The announcement, while pleasing to immigration hardliners who argue that the provision was never meant to be permanent, deals a hard blow to long time Haitian and immigration advocates, the Miami Times reported.

It said that, for months they lobbied the Trump administration to extend the status for at least 18 months. It had been set to expire January 22.

“Haiti is not ready to absorb 58, 000,” said Marleine Bastien, a South Florida Haitian activist who has pushed for at least an 18-month extension of TPS. “It’s going to be a disaster for the 58,000 families in the US and a disaster for Haiti.

“Clearly, they are not making decisions based on facts on the ground, but rather politics. This is purely unacceptable,” she added.

Members of the United States Congress from South Florida also reacted with dismay with Florida Senator Bill Nelson, a Democrat, describing the decision “unconscionable,” and urging the administration to reconsider its position.

Congresswomen Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican, and Frederica Wilson, a Democrat, both vowed to look for legislative solutions.

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The rebuilding of Dominica’s food production sector has been given a boost by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and the OECS Commission’s Agricultural Unit.

Dominica recovery helped by 130,000 seedlings

WIC News

The rebuilding of Dominica’s food production sector has been given a boost by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and the OECS Commission’s Agricultural Unit.

The industry was left decimated with the passage of Hurricane Maria on 18 September.

In an effort to stimulate recovery, more than 130,000 seedlings have been planted in Dominica, with many more distributed to the island’s famers.

Funding has been provided for the rapid production of seedlings by the OECS Commission’s Agriculture Unit under the IICA-Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute’s Agricultural Rehabilitation Budget.

The support is being used for the rehabilitation of greenhouses, irrigation equipment and input for the maintenance of nurseries in Roseau and Portsmouth, which have a combined weekly distribution to farmers of around 30,000 plants a week.

Peter Dillon, special agricultural advisor to the OECS Director General, said the seedling re-planting scheme was established to accelerate food security for Dominica’s residents leading into the New Year.

Quick growing crops will include cabbage, lettuce, tomatoes, eggplant, string-beans, sweet peppers, cucumbers and watermelons.

“We have been distributing seedlings to commercial and ‘backyard farmers’ and supplying the Portsmouth Agricultural Station which provides food for the retirement home and hospital.

“We are now working to expand that distribution to other communities in Dominica to enable localised food security.

OECS Director General Didacus Jules thanked the IICA for their contribution to Dominica.

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Bonn con

Dominica PM goes to COP 23 with a shopping list

BONN, Germany, Nov 16, CMC – Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit Thursday came to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP23) with a shopping list of more than US$200 million as he reminded the international community of the disaster brought upon his country by Hurricane Maria on September 18 this year.

“Hurricane Maria was reported to be one of the most rapidly intensifying storms in recent history. Our citizens barely had time to prepare before the ferocious winds and incessant rain began assaulting our nature island,” Skerrit told the COP23 that ends here on Friday.

Bonn conThe conference is discussing the implementation of the Paris Agreement, the accord within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) dealing with greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance starting in the year 2020.

The language of the agreement was negotiated by representatives of 196 parties at the 21st Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC in Paris and adopted by consensus on 12 December 2015

Skerrit told the conference that the Category 5 storm left, according to the assessments conducted by the World Bank Group and other international agencies, 90 per cent of buildings either damaged or destroyed, over 22 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) wiped out with major damage sustained to agriculture, tourism and housing sectors.

He said public infrastructure was severely impacted and forests decimated.

“Two months later 95 per cent of the country remains without electricity, our water systems are compromised, and many citizens remain displaced and in shelters. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the reality of climate change. Within a few hours an entire country was brought to its knees by the forces of nature.

“Two years ago we convened in a similar setting and signed on to the Paris accord. We pledged as an international community to take positive proactive steps to stem the tide of climate change. The developed world pledged funds to be made available for the mitigation and adaptation of the harmful effects of climate change.”

Skerrit said that Dominica knows the potential impact of climate change and of countries that may disappear.

“How many of the countries that continue to pollute the planet had to suffer a loss of two hundred and twenty four percent of their GDP this year?  Distinguished ladies and gentlemen I present to you today that our countries remain under threat.

“To ensure our very existence the world must do better. We argued at COP 21 for 1 degrees to stay alive – a commitment was made to two degrees but by all assessments we will not even achieve that goal.”

But he told the conference not enough is being done to ensure that the world effectively mitigate the warming of the planet

“How many of our vulnerable small island developing states have been able to access green climate funds to make us more climate resilient? What mechanism is there for us to be able to access emergency funds when facing a disaster like that caused by Maria?

“We have been put on the front line by others. We were the guardians of nature. We have not contributed to global warming. Sixty percent of Dominica is covered by protected rain forests and has been so long before climate change.

“Our marine environment is similarly protected. We are on the front line and this is not a metaphorical war, or a metaphorical line,” he said, adding “it is one in which we bury the dead, console the grieving, nurse our wounds and call out for reinforcements.”

Skerrit said that SIDS were growing weary waiting for the world to hear their cries.

“We hear that now is the time to act. We read headlines of funds set aside. We smell the sweet fragrance of agreements, promises and commitments. But we grow weary waiting. Ladies and gentlemen, despite the hardship we face we have decided to raise our standard.

“We have publicly committed to the international community that we will rebuild ourselves as the first fully climate resilient nation in the Anthropocene. Our small island will shine the torch for others to follow. But, we grow weary.”

The Dominica Prime Minister said that the international community has an opportunity now to truly demonstrate its commitment to battling the effects of climate change, saying “we need you to partner with us to build a truly climate resilient nation a nation adapted to the new reality of fiercer, more frequent and more ferocious storms”.

Skerrit said that Wednesday night’s high level event provided the platform where a selection of non-party stake holders championed the critical message of accelerated climate action and how best to bridge the gap between non-party actors and negotiations.

“We call on all stakeholders to help us to rebuild better and smarter.  Maria that winged messenger of climate change destroyed thousands of homes. US$200 million is required to rebuild in more suitable locations and to a standard that makes them climate resilient. We call on stakeholders to partner with us to rebuild. Maria destroyed our education and health sectors.”

Skerrit said that the World Bank Report supports that US$90 million is needed to rebuild and make schools, hospitals and clinics climate resilient in Dominica.

“We call on the global community to partner with us to help us take on that challenge. Maria ripped apart our water pipes. We need US$56 million to get running water again. US$37 million is needed to establish an entire system of climate resilient agriculture irrigation and food production

“Dominica needs US$15 million to complete an investment in geothermal that would provide a significant boost to its renewable energy sector. We are determined to restore our rainforests and protect our blue horizons. We have grasped the moment to be the change we want in this world.”

Sketrrit told the conference that this isn’t a rash promise, saying “it is what we are struggling to do today.

“But battered as we are we stand before you today awake and tall to the challenge. We call for your assistance, support and partnership. We ask you to not allow climate change to be reduced to a cultural war fought from armchairs.

“We ask you not to allow the sceptics to sneer saying ‘I told you COP was all hot air’ and that ‘nothing real will change’. I urge you today not to betray the Paris Agreement! Operationalise Paris. Give meaning to Paris.Now. Not on paper, but here in this forum! Stand with us. Pledge today to help fund the first climate resilient nation,” Skerrit said.

CMC/ad/ir/2017

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MARIA 5

How to build back better after a hurricane with the next one a few months away

By Irwin LaRocque and Achim Steiner*

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Nov 17, CMC – Imagine relocating the entire population of your country in the face of a colossal hurricane and two months later still not being able to get back home. Now imagine spending several nights in a shelter and taking a stroll the next morning only to find what you used to call community, city or country reduced to an apocalyptic scene.

MARIA 5
Hurricane damage in Dominica (CMC Photo)

This is no fiction. Irma and Maria, two back-to-back Category 5 hurricanes, the most powerful ever recorded in the Atlantic, swept across the Caribbean in September, cutting a swathe of destruction, taking lives, devastating infrastructure and severely damaging the economies of small climate-vulnerable countries.

Entire islands were decimated, like Barbuda, the smaller of the two-island state of Antigua and Barbuda, and Dominica, both members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands were also devastated while The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands were severely affected. Haiti and St Kitts and Nevis also suffered damage. All of the islands are members or Associate Members of CARICOM.

The island of St Marten, divided between Sint Maarten, a constituent country of the Kingdom of Netherlands and St Martin, a dependency of France as well as Cuba and the Dominican Republic were impacted, in addition to Puerto Rico and Florida, in the United States.

The principal economic sectors of tourism and agriculture have been very significantly affected, the resulting loss of jobs compounding the anguish of the loss of homes. In-depth damage assessments in Barbuda and Dominica are still on going, but initial estimates indicate recovery costs could be more than three billion US dollars.

These hurricanes were a game changer. Not even in the Caribbean, which is the most natural disaster-prone Region in the world, had anything like this been experienced before. The occurrence of successive Category 5 hurricanes signals a dangerous change in the intensity and frequency of climate-related storms, and heralds the advent of a new normal.

The number of severe hurricanes is projected to increase by 40 percent, if global temperatures rise by 2°C and up to 80 percent should they rise by 4°, according to a World Bank report entitled “Turn down the Heat”. With the resulting sea-level rise, this will have devastating effects on all Small Island Developing States (SIDS), but particularly those in the Caribbean, this study confirms.

Since the hurricanes hit, the governments of Antigua and Barbuda and the Dominica along with the Barbados-based Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) have been working on the ground hand-in-hand with UN teams, co-led by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) with an urgent task.

Also on the front line have been other CARICOM member states and specialised Institutions, France and its departments in the Caribbean, Venezuela, the United Kingdom, the United States and the International Committee of the Red Cross. Women and men are working around the clock to build back better. They need more resilient communities that are ready to cope with the next hurricane season only seven months ahead.

But rebuilding from the increased frequency and intensity of natural disasters will be impossible without international support, particularly considering the overwhelming climate-vulnerability and crippling debt burdens of these vulnerable SIDS.

The needs are urgent. But there are three crucial opportunities at hand. First, the Conference of The Parties (COP23) in Bonn, Germany, 6-17 November, is a vital moment for the world to come together and act on climate change.

Then, on 21 November at the UN headquarters in New York a UN-CARICOM pledging conference provides the opportunity for the world to support affected Caribbean countries as they build back better, especially considering that they have been bearing the brunt of climate change without having contributed to the problem.

Finally, now, more than ever, it is fundamental that the international community rethinks traditional criteria for concessional development financing based primarily on GDP per capita. These affected nations are being denied full access to such financing based on being ranked as Middle Income countries.

The criteria must take into account the economic and environmental vulnerability of SIDS.

Now is the time to act. If Caribbean countries are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 they need urgent accessing to financing—including for climate change adaptation. In view of such urgent needs, UNDP’s Caribbean Human Development Report “Multidimensional Progress: human resilience beyond income”, launched a year ago, called for improved standards that take into account multiple indicators, or well-being measurements beyond income alone.

If the world has vowed to eradicate poverty by 2030 it is crucial to invest in boosting communities’, countries’ and entire regions’ resilience in the social, economic and environmental fronts.

Building back better is an essential part of this effort. We invite the world to support the Caribbean countries through global action on climate and during the CARICOM-UN High Level Pledging Conference: Building a More Climate-Resilient Community. We must all act now, before it’s too late.

*Irwin LaRocque is the Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)

*Achim Steiner is UN Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator

Posted in Featured, Features, Hurricane, International, Local, News, Regional0 Comments

We need done, that which is right, not chaotic discourse

We need done, that which is right, not chaotic discourse

November 17, 2017

In May this year an Editorial out of Anguilla caught our attention. The caption read: Realising Anguilla’s needs and wants – what will it take? It appeared to have been a guest editorial, but it did not state that. Only bylined ‘By anguillian’.

It outlined: “It is obvious from the comments, observations and assertions of Anguillians, that Anguillians want the best and expect the best in all aspects of life on Anguilla. This results in a very extensive shopping list for the consideration of Anguilla’s leaders as they contemplate how best to utilise Anguilla’s limited financial resources. The development of a national plan is considered essential, by many, to guide our leaders in the decision-making process, as they seek to prioritise their response to the many needs and wants of Anguilla’s populace.”

Does this sound any different for Montserrat? You may disagree but in ways it does. What was called for as it said: “…neither the development of a national plan, nor the subsequent adherence to a national plan, will be easy without significant cooperation and collaboration among the various sectors of Anguilla, which invariably compete for limited resources.”

“We might feel that as Anguillians we will see the bigger picture and therefore do what is required for the benefit of Anguilla.” To that we say the same, having been thrown right back at least nearly ten years at least, forgetting that we have been trying since 1996 when the UK committed to building a new Montserrat with life centered in the northern half of the island.

So they came up with a shopping list which must have been exasperated and became much longer following the passage of hurricane Irma which devastated the island perhaps worse that Hugo did Montserrat in 1989. Of course, for Montserrat, nothing can compare to Soufriere Hill’s volcanic extreme decimation. We note that Anguilla and the other OTs particular BVI Tortola etc. have referenced the shameful position Montserrat is in the UK’s response up to date as to their expectation for UK’s assistance.

The shopping list referred to the improvement and needs, specifically mentioning: Education,

Health, Sports, Theatre Arts, Air & Sea Access, Road Development, Government Office Accommodation.

So how is Montserrat doing having come up with a Development plan from 2008 – 2020, an Strategic Growth Plan out of that in 2012? And if we take from the shopping list above, we can take a mark of zero.

Why and how in the circumstances of the few major things on the list being undertaken Montserrat is being told – go look for private partnerships (PPP) on projects already agreed and/or approved?

We draw attention to Air & Sea Access, Government Office Accommodation from the list above, and add, infrastructural development (such as fibre optic cable) health (hospital and medical schools).

On Government office accommodation: vital for building a national consciousness, Parliament building, Court House, and a Premier’s state house. All these do not need the question of justification. It is a disgrace – and whoever should take a bow in admission should lift it high and say ‘forward on’ here we go.

 

We know where the weaknesses and stumbling blocks are! Much of it among us from and by our own, but disgrace to the HMG for knowing and using it to block the progress it is obligated to and actually promised.

 

It is why old and especially new politicians obviously do not care or do not understand the hurdle that must be overcome rather saying that we look to the wrong places. That change as much as it may be the eventual route will not come overnight, and without the fight to have done, what is right.

 

We would warn that the hood winked approach at only the sea access importance is a very limited look at the progress of tourism building in Montserrat. It is a mistake and recent tourism strategy from 2012 will show this.

Posted in Editorial, Hurricane, Local, Regional0 Comments

IMF Andrew

IMF pledges support for Caribbean

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Nov 16, CMC – The International Monetary Fund (IMF) Thursday pledged its support for the Caribbean as the region moves to build resilience against the effects of natural disasters.

IMF managing director, Christine Lagarde, addressing the sixth IMF High level Caribbean forum, said the Washington-based financial institution is prepared to support the Caribbean with recovery funding and is cognisant of the impact of natural disasters on economic development and stability in the Caribbean.

IMF Andrew
Jamaica’s Prime Minuster Andrew Holness in discussions
with IMF managing director, Christine Lagarde

She told the forum, which is being held under the theme ‘Unleashing Growth and Strengthening Resilience in the Caribbean’, that the IMF is ready to provide leadership with sourcing special funding and expertise to assist the region in developing mitigation and resilience strategies over the short and long term.

She said Hurricanes Irma and Maria that passed through the Lesser Antilles in September causing widespread destruction and killing several people “have again highlighted the special vulnerabilities of the Caribbean, and the need to strengthen its resilience.

“Climate change is expected to intensify the impact of natural disasters, and worsen the vulnerabilities of small states in the Caribbean. Rising sea levels increase risks of erosion and flooding, and warmer water temperatures heighten the potential for more intense hurricanes,” she told the forum that is being attended by several regional prime ministers, central bank governors and other stakeholders.

“We must come together to address the challenge posed by climate change, and help those most affected by it. Emergency relief following events like Hurricanes Irma and Maria is a key responsibility of the global community.”

Lagarde said that the IMF stands ready to do whatever it can to help in these situations, in assessing macroeconomic implications, determining financing needs, and providing financial support that would also help catalyze broader financing from the rest of the international community.

“Beyond these efforts, I propose convening an event with all the major public and private stakeholders to explore options for building resilience in the region, including risk mitigation, debt management strategies, and use of catastrophe bonds. This effort is not about a short-term response, but about building defenses to events that will reoccur again.

“In this effort, we will work in close collaboration with our Caribbean partners and the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Caribbean Development Bank, and other development partners.”

She said that the forum, which focuses on issues impacting the region and the potential opportunities within the context of an ever-changing global landscape, is an important platform for brainstorming and collaborating with key stakeholders on the challenges facing the region and the possible solutions to address them.

The IMF has just published a book by the same title as the theme of the forum and the IMF managing director said it which explores some of the ideas to be raised.

“This year’s Forum is also about hearing your views on how we can work together to deepen Caribbean growth, insulate it more from shocks, and make it more resilient. We all want this region to create more jobs and growth for the benefits of its current and future generations.

The IMF official said stronger economic growth is the essential foundation for a more resilient Caribbean and it is also a foundation for building defenses.

“Unfortunately, economic growth in the Caribbean has been low for several decades. This has led to rising social and economic challenges, including poverty, inequality, unemployment, and crime. While many authorities in the Caribbean were successful in their efforts to create a stable macroeconomic environment, growth still remains elusive.”

Lagarde said there is no one explanation for this disappointing growth performance. Caribbean economies have been hit by external shocks, such as natural disasters which affected agriculture in particular and loss of international trade preferences.

She said at the same time, they have not been able to fully insulate themselves from such shocks because of large macroeconomic imbalances. Growth has also been affected by structural impediments.

“A few come to mind: The region’s high cost of electricity, limited access to credit for households and medium and small enterprises, high rates of violent crime, and a persistent outflow of highly-skilled workers, the brain drain.

“So what can we do moving forward? That is what brings us together…This conference has been organized to discuss these issues. The IMF is not a specialist on these topics, and this conference will afford us an opportunity to learn.”

She said that the agenda covers three specific issues that are key to higher growth, namely crime and youth unemployment; fiscal policy and political cycles; and stability and growth trade-offs in the financial sector.

The IMF official said that crime and youth unemployment in the Caribbean is among the highest in the world. Crime, partly fuelled by this high rate of joblessness, a major obstacle to growth in the Caribbean.

She said crime imposes several economic costs, including public spending on security and the criminal justice system; private spending on security; and social costs from the loss of income due to victimization and incarceration.

In a recent study, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) found that, on average, crime in the Caribbean costs nearly four per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) annually, more than in most Latin American countries.

“So we need to create a virtuous cycle, where strong growth would reduce high unemployment and in particular high youth unemployment and crime which, in turn, would contribute to boosting productivity and growth, without which investors are reluctant to invest. “

But Lagrade said this “can only take us so far” and that politics and electoral cycles can have a strong impact on fiscal policies and economic outcomes, a phenomenon that has been observed around the world, and has also played a major role in shaping economic developments in the Caribbean.

She said too often, promising reforms have been cut short by policy reversals driven by political pressures, not in all cases, but in many instances.

“We need strong institutions and fiscal frameworks that can help safeguard and sustain prudent fiscal policy over time.

“For example, well-designed fiscal rules can help guide consolidation efforts. Indeed, such a rule targeting a reduction in public debt to 60 percent of GDP over the medium term has been introduced in several countries in the region—the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union—and has had success in putting public debt on a clear downward path in St. Kitts and Nevis, Grenada, and Jamaica.”

Lagarde said that the experience of these countries, which in the main has been very successful, provides a good example for other countries in the region.

She said fiscal councils are also increasingly recognized as tools to promote sound fiscal policies by providing independent information and analysis, and by monitoring compliance with fiscal rules.

She said Jamaica’s Economic Program Oversight Committee (EPOC) provides a good example.

“From 2013 onwards, this public-private sector committee has played a central role in monitoring Jamaica’s economic reform program and building support for it. While some had doubts whether the government’s program would work, through the authorities efforts including building support, the program succeeded.”

In her address the IMF managing director said that there is need to consider the connection between financial stability and growth.

“We know that a well-functioning and healthy financial sector should strike a balance between risk-taking, growth, and stability. But we also know that the financial sectors in the Caribbean have historically either taken on too much or too little risk.”

She said in countries with high public debt, banks have grown dependent on government paper, and have crowded out private sector credit.

In other countries, at times, banks have engaged in excessively risky lending, leading to struggles with nonperforming loans.

“What is the right balance? That will be the focus of a part of our conversation today. The distinguished panel has also been asked to examine policies to address constraints on financial sector inclusion and deepening—and I am very much looking forward to hearing its views,” she told the ceremony.

She said when it comes to banking, there is another challenge that needs to be looked at, noting that both Caribbean and other economies around the world have had to contend with the loss of correspondent banking relationships (CBRs), also known as de-risking.

The IMF, Lagarde said, has facilitated an international dialogue on this issue, aimed at fostering a shared understanding of the problem, and to help develop policy responses that are tailored to specific challenges faced by Caribbean economies.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Crime, Energy, Hurricane, International, Local, Regional, TOURISM0 Comments

devexlogo_

UK proposal on aid for overseas territories withdrawn at DAC, but sparks debate

 
By Molly Anders, Sophie Edwards 01 November 2017
 
View of damage caused on by Hurricane Irma in Road Town, the capital of the
British Virgin Islands.  Photo by: Ministry of Defence / CC BY
 

PARIS — The United Kingdom was forced to withdraw its last-minute proposal on changes to the aid rules that would have allowed for spending on wealthier but climate-vulnerable island states after failing to secure a consensus at the Development Assistance Committee’s high-level meeting in the French capital this week.However, sources say the proposal sparked a key debate over ODA eligibility and “reclassification” of countries after a crisis during the meeting at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s headquarters in Paris.

The DAC sets the rules on ODA spending for the 30 richest donor countries, and gathers every two years for a high-level meeting, which took place on Monday and Tuesday this week.

At the start of the meeting on Monday morning, the U.K. Secretary of State for International Development Priti Patel proposed a change to the aid rules that was not on the official agenda: a “three year waiver” for rich countries struck by disasters to temporarily qualify for ODA.

The proposal came after the U.K. government was criticized for its response to Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean. Several of the country’s overseas territories — including the British Virgin Islands and Anguilla — were badly damaged by the storm, but the U.K. was not able to draw on its aid budget for the recovery because the islands are too wealthy to qualify under the current rules.

Sources present at the high-level meeting told Devex the U.K. withdrew the proposal later in the day, after it “became clear there wasn’t consensus,” according to Winnie Byanyima, executive director of Oxfam International. Changes to the aid rules must be agreed unanimously by the committee.

However on Tuesday, U.K. minister of international development Lord Michael Bates — apparently unaware of the government’s withdrawal the previous day — told the International Development Committee in the U.K. House of Commons that the proposal was still in play at the DAC meetings. He said the secretary of state was “making the case as we speak.”

Controversial proposal

Byanyima, who sat in on the DAC meetings, told Devex: “The British government wanted to count the money to spend in its own territories; I think that is really absurd. I must put it that way.”

“This is now diverting money that should go to the poorest countries — people living in crisis in Africa [for example], people on the verge of famine like in Somalia and Nigeria — and to give it to your rich islands when you have other money to use to solve the problems of your territories? For me that’s taking from the poor to give to the rich and it’s not right,” she said.

The U.K. government was criticized in the media and by politicians from the opposition Labour Party for being too slow to respond after Hurricane Irma ripped through the Caribbean in September. The Times newspaper’s diplomatic correspondent Catherine Philp told the IDC that reporters had received complaints from people in the area who said they felt angry and neglected after seeing neighboring islands receive faster assistance from the French and Dutch governments.

The IDC also heard from representatives of the territories who spoke of huge losses. Blondel Cluff, Anguilla’s representative to the U.K. and EU, said nearly all of the country’s key infrastructure was annihilated, including its schools, by the storm. Cluff said that U.K. assistance arrived within a day but that historically the country has been neglected.

“We are the Cinderella of the overseas territories … we have been overlooked time and again and this is because we have not been commercially attractive,” she said.

Reigniting debate

While the U.K.’s proposal to make an exception for its crises-struck territories was withdrawn, Byanyima and DAC chair Charlotte Petri Gornitzka said the proposal reignited a debate that had fallen on the backburner over how to account for wealthier countries that fall out of the rich-country category after a crisis.

According to the current rules, countries’ GNI must fall below a certain level to qualify for aid, but no mechanism currently exists for countries that graduate from ODA eligibility and then, due to unforeseen crises, fall back into it.

At the meetings, Byanyima said she “could sympathize with the issue of states falling back” into ODA eligibility due to humanitarian crises, such as war or natural disasters.

“Development isn’t so linear, a country can progress and can regress, I know this for sure. My own country, Uganda, went through a brutal dictatorship and civil war, went into negative growth and slid back, our economy shrunk — so it can happen. It’s not common but it can happen, so it would be good to have a process to tackle that,” she told Devex.

Petri Gornitzka told Devex that the U.K.’s proposal helped revive the important debate around ODA eligibility and “reclassification.”

“During the meeting we have been discussing what happens when you graduate and something [like a natural disaster] hits, what happens to small islands? And when you discuss this you realize this can happen not only to small islands, so the issue of crisis that can hit even rich countries and middle-income countries has been discussed. In the DAC that means that yes, the U.K. proposal was one trigger, but also the discussion on graduation,” she said.

Petri Gornitzka said the DAC has committed, in part due to the U.K.’s failed proposal, to “continue to collect data and analysis about what happens when you graduate on one hand, and examine this more immediate issue of crises.”

More research needed

The DAC communique that came out of the high-level meeting states: “We will review and reflect on the evidence base that documents the consequences of different graduation processes on access to development finance from all sources, and will continue to conduct policy analysis on the patterns of cooperation, including financing, channels, and objectives in countries in transition, in coordination with other relevant actors.”

Still, it is unclear whether future change to the rules would impact the eligibility of the British overseas territories. Richard Montgomery, director of the Asia, Caribbean, and overseas territories division at the U.K. Department for International Development, said that even another hurricane would be unlikely to render the islands in question poor enough to meet the ODA threshold.

“I think given the size of the economy and the GDP estimates that we have, it’s actually quite unlikely these hurricanes would shock them back to a level of GDP which is below the ODA threshold,” Montgomery told the IDC on Tuesday, adding that Anguilla might be the nearest to the line.

However, the DAC did also express an interest in possibly reconsidering the GDP-bound criteria for aid eligibility. The communique issued Tuesday night acknowledges the current debate around “new measures and metrics of development progress beyond per capita income,” suggesting the fundamental income-based metric for aid eligibility might up for discussion in the future.

Update, Nov. 2: This article was amended to clarify that the DAC sets the rules on ODA spending for the 30 richest donor countries, and that British Overseas Territories including including the British Virgin Islands and Anguilla were affected by Hurricane Irma

Read more international development news online, and subscribe to The Development Newswire to receive the latest from the world’s leading donors and decision-makers — emailed to you free every business day.

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

Dominica PM addressingindpendence

Dominica celebrates 39 years of political independence from Britain

ROSEAU, Dominica, Nov 3, CMC – Hurricane battered Dominica is celebrating 39 years of political independence from Britain on Friday with Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit urging citizens not to be daunted by the tasking of rebuilding the island.

Hurricane Marie hit Dominica on September 18 as a Category 5 storm, killing at least 28 people and leaving billions of dollars in damage.

Unlike previous years when nationals were honoured for their contribution to the socio-economic development of the island, this year’s national awards ceremony has been postponed to next year.

Dominica PM addressingindpendence
Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit delivering national
address at Independence Rally

In his address to the nation marking the independence celebrations, Skerrit said that the Dominica ‘is still standing” despite facing the “fiercest floods, the most ferocious winds.

“We are sorrow-stricken; we swallow hard, but it still catches in our throat; and we are still standing! Difficulties envelope every aspect of life, uncertainties swirl; and we are still standing! The outside world wondered aloud whether this is the kind of devastation from which you don’t recover. We are still standing.

“We, the children of Dominica, have shown the world that disaster is finite; but, hope is infinite! Maria stole everything money can buy, everything you can put a price on; but left what you cannot but… that which is priceless! We will determine the value of those things through our actions in coming days and weeks. A moment comes, but rarely in history, when a nation’s soul is revealed”

He told the Independence Day rally at the Windsor Park Stadium attended by thousands of people that how the island responds to the storm “will define us, will make us; will become us.

“In this solemn moment, let us all, Dominicans who reside here or abroad, let us chose today to renew our pledge to the service of Dominica, her people and to all humanity. Let us together renew our pledge to fight poverty and ignorance; build a prosperous, progressive nation; and to invest in institutions that safeguard justice and opportunity for all.

“Our nation’s doubters will say what is the point of such a small country having such high ambition at such a low time like this? We say that the measure of the greatness of a nation is not its size or what it aims for in comfort, but what it strives for in crisis.”

Skerrit said that the day following the hurricane he witnessed “total destruction” adding “I saw corrugated iron mangled and tossed aside, with everything else as if we had been ransacked by a giant burglar.

“I sensed uncertainty spiralling. I smelled fear. I also breathed in the deep indefatigable determination of the vast majority of our people to carry on and stand up. When faced with grave danger humans have evolved an instinct to fight or flee. We chose to fight! We chose to rise”.

He said he is confident that people who would have fled the island after the storm as they did in 1979 when Dominica was hit by Hurricane David, would soon return.

“Sometimes it takes a crisis to remind everyone of the importance of our journey. Remember, you only see the stars clearly at the darkest hour. Ladies and Gentlemen, on this our Independence Day, Dominica stands forth on the edge of a great triumph to come, on the edge of a triumph not just for Dominica but for the world.

“The disaster visited upon us has shown in so many ways how we are not an island onto ourselves. We are not an isolated fragment of humanity floating in the Caribbean Sea. Humanity is tightly knit. The industrialisation of others warmed the seas and brought hell and fury down upon us but we will not be helpless victims of this world”

Skerrit said humanity’s development has shaped Dominica and the island’s response must help to shape humanity’s course.

“It will be a measure of the maturity of our independence of its meaningfulness if we are brave enough and wise enough to accept that the challenge of our time is global warming and climate change. We must therefore grasp the opportunity to make a difference to the world to shine a light onto the right path for our planet.

“We do not lightly choose to rebuild better or to build the first climate resilient nation in the Anthropocene. The message has found us. We understand the task. We shall rebuild so as to bring a new hope into being for humanity. We must. We will. Our tryst with humanity’s destiny is not a chance thing.”

But he also acknowledged that the task before the island is “formidable,” adding “we have lost an estimated 200 per cent of our GDP (gross domestic product) and our goal is to rebuild better not just to replace what was lost.

“We must use the opportunity to move quickly to 100 per cent resilient and renewable energy. We must rebuild almost all of our schools and clinics in a smart, climate resilient way. We must build new roads bridges and put in place slope interventions. We must coordinate our rebuilding so that our cables run underground alongside this new infrastructure.”

Skerrit outlined new plans for the re-development of the island saying there are moves to establish the Climate Resilient Economic Agency of Dominica, (CREAD) to support the rapid implementation of the plans once they are funded.

He said following his visit to the United States, London and Brussels over the last few weeks over 50 per cent of the funding needed to rebuild the island had been forthcoming and that “we will be presenting our plans to a partners conference in New York later in the month to help raise part of the rest. We will support the private sector as it rebuilds and restores.

“We will facilitate insurance pay-outs the importation of rebuilding materials the forbearance of lenders and clamp down on price gouging.  For the balance of the resources we are pursuing innovative financial instruments that link the restoration of the rain forests and protection of our marine environment to new resources for rebuilding.

“It will require careful, thoughtful, strategic planning carried out at lightning speed, because we do not have the luxury of time. It will take unity of purpose. It will take courage, It will take fearlessness. It will take incessant striving. It will take every single Dominican to join the fight to feel its fierce urgency. It will also require a resoluteness of character. This is no time for ill-will. No time for petty and destructive criticism.”

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

DSC_2902

Royal Bank donates to Red Cross hurricane relief

On Wednesday, October 25, 2017, the branch of the British Red Cross’ hurricane relief efforts have been boosted by a donation by the Royal Bank of Canada. The volunteer service organization was presented with a check for US$10,000. Branch Manager Miss Lucille Irish presented the check to chairman of the Red Cross branch, Bennette Roach during a brief ceremony at the bank’s offices in Brades.

Miss Irish said, handing over the oversized replica of the check, said: “Royal Bank, Montserrat is pleased to present this check to the Montserrat Red Cross. It’s a check for US$10,000. This is our contribution to help persons who were affected by the hurricane Maria.”

On behalf of the Montserrat Branch of the BRC we are grateful and say thank you very much to RBC one of our oldest corporate citizens in MNI. I understand that this year we celebrate in MNI 100 years of RBC being in MNI. We look forward to even more contributions as in celebration of that period. I want say thank you very much on behalf of Red Cross and the people who are going to be beneficiaries of the $10,0000.”Chairman Roach, while saying that the funds will be used for persons who were impacted in the September hurricane, said: “There are all kinds of different things we can do. Red Cross does anything that is humanitarian, anything that help uplifts people in time of difficulty.”

We would have to determine what those things are,” he said. “Take for example people like farmers who have lost almost everything and which have put a real damper on agriculture and food in Montserrat…”

He cited also the disaster risk reduction program the Red Cross branch has been associated with. “We have been carrying out this and can assist in that area.

Posted in Hurricane, International, Local, News, Regional0 Comments

Hurricane damage significantly impact Caribbean tourism

Hurricane damage significantly impact Caribbean tourism

by STAFF WRITER

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Nov 1, CMC – The region is observing Caribbean Tourism Month in November amid the “significant” economic impact caused by the passage of Hurricanes Irma and Maria through the Lesser Antilles last month

Secretary General of the Barbados-based Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), Hugh Riley, said that the regional tourism sector in 2017 can be described as a “tale of two situations” as a result of the Category 5 hurricanes that devastated countries like Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, the British Virgin Islands, the Turks and Caicos Islands, Anguilla, St. Martin and to a lesser extent the Bahamas and St. Kitts-Nevis.

Riley said that during the first half of this year, the region performed at new record pace, welcoming 16.6 million international tourist arrivals at a healthy growth rate of 5.2 percent, when compared to the same period last year.

However, following the passage of the hurricanes, growth was severely impacted with the revised forecast for 2017 now at one to two percent, down from 2.5 to 3.5 percent.

“The economic impact of the storms is significant. The Caribbean Development Bank predicts that every one percent reduction in tourist arrivals (based on 2015 travel data) will cost US$137 million in lost revenue.

“No doubt, the hurricanes have presented us with some major challenges, but we are determined to rebuild better and more sustainably,’ Riley said,

He said while the affected countries are at various stages on the road back to normality, it is also important to note that over 75 percent of the region was unscathed by the storms.

“In this context, we encourage you to keep visiting the Caribbean, as this is the best way to help the region,” he said, noting that during Caribbean Tourism Month “we will focus on adventure, in keeping with the Year of Adventure.

“Mindful of the impact of the storms, there are still countless travel adventures to be had this month and for the remainder of the year. We look forward to hearing of the various events and activities planned for the month, and with your permission, we will share your information and images. “

He said the month also provides an opportunity to reiterate the message that “we are open for business and we do have an exciting product to offer.

“Yes, some challenges remain and those are being addressed, but let’s also emphasize the superb experiences we can offer to guests right now and help them and their companions have a Caribbean adventure to remember.

“Together, let’s keep the right focus on this important industry and reaffirm the value of One Sea, One Voice, One Caribbean,” Riley added.

Posted in Hurricane, International, Local, News, Regional0 Comments

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