Archive | Energy

image-5

CARICOM Foreign Ministers hold two-day strategic meeting

(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana – The CARICOM Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR) held a Special Meeting on 16-17 2021, hosted by the Consul General of Jamaica in Miami, Florida, USA. It was the first in-person meeting of the COFCOR since the onset of the COVID 19 Pandemic in January 2020, bringing together Ministers who had assumed office over the past eighteen months and their colleagues.

The Meeting was strategic in intent and provided the opportunity to define common positions and to thereby strengthen the coordination of approaches on foreign policy matters. Views were expressed on a CARICOM Vision 2050 and Strategic Positioning of the Community in that regard. Threats and opportunities were outlined and discussions centered on the web of relations with international partners, Third States, as well as regional and international organisations which would help to shape a strategic foreign policy agenda for the Community.
 

The Meeting’s agenda also included the multifaceted effects of COVID 19 including inequitable access to vaccines and the emerging two-tiered system of vaccine approval related to international travel, as well as the barriers to access to concessional financing and other obstacles to economic recovery. Attention was paid to bilateral and multilateral relations within the Western Hemisphere, as well as to concerns arising from areas of political instability in the wider Caribbean region. Discussions on the Community’s relations with regional and hemispheric organisations was also undertaken with a view to strengthening that interface.

The situation in Haiti was discussed and possible modes of intervention by CARICOM to assist a Haiti-driven solution were explored.
  Deliberations also took place with regard to extra-regional partnerships with focus being placed on the recent strengthening of relations with Africa and the required follow-up to the first Summit last month. Relations with the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) and the Commonwealth were also discussed.  With regard to the latter where the issue of the renewal of the term of office of the Secretary-General remains pending, the Council reiterated its stance that the incumbent, Baroness Scotland, enjoys the broad support of the Community.  

TWENTY-FOURTH MEETING OF THE COUNCIL FOR FOREIGN AND COMMUNITY RELATIONS (COFCOR) VIRTUAL
6-7 MAY 2021

(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana)     The Twenty-Fourth Meeting of the Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR) of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) was held virtually on the 6-7 May 2021, under the Chairmanship of the Honourable Eamon Courtenay, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belize.
 
The COFCOR was attended by Honourable E. P. Chet Greene, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Immigration and Trade of Antigua and Barbuda; Senator Dr. the Honourable Jerome Walcott, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Barbados; Honourable Dr. Kenneth Darroux, Minister for Foreign Affairs, International Business and Diaspora Relations of the Commonwealth of Dominica; Honourable Oliver Joseph, Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Business and CARICOM Affairs of Grenada; Honourable Hugh Todd, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Guyana; His Excellency Dr. Claude Joseph, Prime Minister a.i. and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Worship of the Republic of Haiti; Senator the Honourable Kamina Johnson-Smith, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Jamaica; Honourable Mark A.G. Brantley, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Aviation of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis; His Excellency Albert Ramdin, Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Business and International Cooperation of the Republic of Suriname; and Senator the Honourable Dr. Amery Browne, Minister of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
 
His Excellency Reuben Rahming, Ambassador to The Bahamas to CARICOM, represented The Bahamas; Her Excellency Elma Gene Isaac, Ambassador to CARICOM to Saint Lucia, represented Saint Lucia; and His Excellency Allan Alexander, Ambassador of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to CARICOM represented St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
 
OPENING CEREMONY
 
Remarks were delivered by Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community, His Excellency Dr. Claude Joseph, Prime Minister a.i and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Worship of the Republic of Haiti, outgoing Chair of the COFCOR, and the Honourable Eamon Courtenay, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Immigration of Belize, the Chair of the COFCOR.
(The statements are available at www.caricom.org)
 
COORDINATION OF FOREIGN POLICY
 
CARICOM Foreign Minister re-emphasised the importance for the Region to speak with one voice through the coordination of foreign policy, and the need to find new and more effective ways to strengthen the existing coordination mechanisms while recognising the sovereign right of Member States. It was noted that there continues to be successful coordination but the increasing complexity of international issues requires that it be enhanced.  In that regard, the COFCOR agreed to increase the frequency of its meetings. This would enable Ministers to address in a timely fashion new developments and challenges facing the Community and to shape Community responses and policies.
 
CANDIDATURES
 
The COFCOR reiterated the importance of CARICOM’s effective participation in international fora, including through the pursuit of increased CARICOM representation in relevant organisations.  In this regard, Foreign Ministers considered and endorsed a number of CARICOM candidatures to the United Nations (UN), the Organisation of American States (OAS) and other international and regional organisations. They also deliberated on the requests from Third Countries for CARICOM’s endorsement of their candidates to multilateral bodies.

BILATERAL RELATIONS
 
The COFCOR noted the progress made in the strengthening of relations with a number of Third States and groups of states since its last Meeting.  In so doing, it reaffirmed the importance of CARICOM’s relations with its traditional partners and the need to continue to expand the Community’s outreach to other regions and so develop its relations with non-traditional partners and groupings.

The devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and addressing its public health and economic effects, in particular the need for equitable access to vaccines and to economic recovery financing, were among the Community’s priority concerns discussed and for which assistance was sought.

Ministers discussed relations the African Union. They reaffirmed their readiness for a CARICOM-AU Summit as soon as practicable.

The COFCOR expressed its continued concern that the US embargo against Cuba has a significant adverse impact on the socio-economic development of Cuba and the well-being of the Cuban People.  Foreign Ministers reiterated CARICOM’s support for the termination of the long-standing US economic, financial and commercial embargo against Cuba and agreed to continue to advocate in this regard.

MULTILATERAL AND HEMISPHERIC RELATIONS

United Nations (UN)
 
The COFCOR noted the developments regarding pursuit of the Financing for Development (FfD) agenda and the challenges associated with expanding public health expenditures while applying fiscal containment measures in line with the economic downturn arising from the COVID-19 Pandemic.  Foreign Ministers commended the Honourable Prime Minister of Jamaica who joined with the Prime Minister of Canada and the UN Secretary-General to launch an initiative that has resulted in a menu of over 250 policy options to address Financing for Development in the Era of COVID-19 and beyond.   

The COFCOR agreed on the need for global solutions to the various challenges facing Small Island and Low-Lying Coastal Developing States, particularly in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The COFCOR also agreed that the Community should continue to prioritise the implementation of the SAMOA Pathway in a robust manner, including the launch of a strong COVID-19 economic recovery related appeal to the international community and, in particular the G20, asking for the expansion and extension of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI). The COFCOR encouraged the consideration of innovative debt relief measures such as debt swaps, debt buybacks, and State Contingent Debt Instruments to ease the economic fallout of the pandemic.
 They also agreed to continue to advocate against –

  1. the designation of CARICOM Member States as high-risk territories thereby resulting in the ongoing loss of correspondent banking relationships (CBRs); and
  • the unilateral actions to blacklist some Member States as non-cooperative tax jurisdictions.

The COFCOR welcomed the convening of a Food Systems Summit as part of the Decade of Action to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) being hosted by the UN Secretary-General in October 2021 and encouraged the highest level of participation from Member States.

The COFCOR agreed to continue to advance a common regional position, at the fourth and final Inter-Governmental Conference for the development of an Internationally Legally Binding Instrument on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biological Diversity Beyond Areas of National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) scheduled for 16-27 August 2021.

Organisation of American States (OAS)

The COFCOR received an update on the issues of strategic importance to the Caribbean Community before the Organisation of American States (OAS). Foreign Ministers welcomed the CARICOM Framework Strategy entitled Vulnerability to Resilience put in place by the OAS Secretary-General with the assistance of the CARICOM Caucus. Ministers expressed concern over the limited resources allocated to areas identified as priority to CARICOM and agreed that every effort should be made to ensure that adequate resources are allotted to these areas. Foreign Ministers agreed to raise this matter at the Fifty-First OAS General Assembly, scheduled to be hosted this year by Guatemala. They also reiterated their commitment to the work of the hemispheric body. The COFCOR commended the work of the CARICOM Caucus in Washington D.C.

Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC)
The COFCOR reviewed a synopsis of the 2021 Work Programme of the CELAC PPT Mexico and commended the PPT Mexico and CELAC for advancing priorities related to recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic on the health and economic fronts.

Association of Caribbean States (ACS)
The Council welcomed the assumption to the office of His Excellency Rodolfo Sabonge as the new Secretary-General of the ACS and agreed that CARICOM Member States should continue to act strategically within the Association.
Foreign Ministers commended the coordination efforts in the Greater Caribbean in response to the pandemic.

CLIMATE CHANGE
The COFCOR agreed that COP26 should be the COP of Ambitious Action and that it must result in greater speed in scaling up climate finance flows to SIDS via the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) finance mechanisms, the Green Climate Fund and the Adaptation Fund. Foreign Ministers also reiterated their support to the Government of Antigua and Barbuda as Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS).

In preparation for COP26, the COFCOR emphasised the need for the Member States to engage in wide-ranging consultation with stakeholders at the national and regional levels.

BORDER ISSUES
Belize-Guatemala Dispute
The COFCOR received an update on developments between Belize and Guatemala, including in respect of the case, arising from Guatemala’s territorial, insular and maritime claim, that is now before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for final and definitive resolution, in accordance with the Special Agreement to Submit Guatemala’s Claim to the ICJ.

The COFCOR urged Belize, Guatemala and the OAS to respect and implement fully the Confidence Building Measures as agreed under their Framework Agreement of 2005, pending a resolution of the case before the ICJ. They further urged both countries and the OAS to reinvigorate their efforts to engage in the design and development of a mechanism of cooperation for the Sarstoon River, which remains outstanding.

The COFCOR recognises and supports the OAS’ crucial role in the process aimed at resolving the dispute, arising from Guatemala’s claims on Belize, and called on the international community to continue supporting the OAS Office in the Adjacency Zone.

The COFCOR reaffirmed its unwavering support for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and security of Belize.

Guyana-Venezuela Controversy
Foreign Ministers received an update on the most recent developments in the controversy between the Cooperative Republic of Guyana and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. They noted that Guyana had begun to prepare its Memorial for submission on 8 March 2022 in accordance with the schedule set by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to hear the case on the merits of Guyana’s application concerning the validity of the Arbitral Award of 1899 and the related question of the definitive settlement of the land boundary between the two countries.

Foreign Ministers reiterated the expression by CARICOM Heads of Government of the Community’s full support for the ongoing judicial process that is intended to bring a peaceful and definitive end to the long-standing controversy between the two countries and urged Venezuela to participate in the process.

Foreign Ministers remained very concerned about the threatening posture of Venezuela and reaffirmed their consistent support for the maintenance and preservation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Guyana.

ADVANCNG REGIONAL PRIORITIES: CARICOM AGRI-FOOD AGENDA
The COFCOR affirmed the strategy adopted at the Thirty-Second Inter-sessional Conference of CARICOM Heads of Government (February 2021) for the advancement of the CARICOM Agri-Food Systems Agenda with priority attention to regional food and nutrition security. Ministers agreed to include the Agenda among the priority issues for engagement with relevant partners and in international fora, including the UN Food Systems Summit and the Summit of the Americas.

UNCTAD XV
The COFCOR received a report from Barbados on preparations for UNCTAD XV and noted that the Conference, which was scheduled to be held in Barbados in 2020, will now be held virtually on 3 October 2021.

Foreign Ministers commended Barbados for its continuing efforts to convene this important Conference and affirmed their commitment to work collectively with Barbados in ensuring that CARICOM SIDS specific issues are reflected in the outcome of UNCTAD XV.

Posted in CARICOM, Columns, COVID-19, Crime, Energy, Environment, General, International, Local, News, Regional0 Comments

logo

Progressives say Biden infrastructure bill isn’t big enough: “We can’t go back to business as usual”

logo
“This is not nearly enough,” Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez says
By Jon Skolnik
April 1, 2021 5:34PM (UTC)
main article image

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Joe Biden (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

President Joe Biden proposed a $2 trillion federal spending package on Wednesday that would revamp the country’s crumbling infrastructure, taking specific aim at pollution, job creation, housing, and corporate taxes. But many on the left who have championed the Green New Deal say the president’s plan isn’t big enough. 

“This is not nearly enough,” tweeted Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y, regarding the size of the bill. “The important context here is that it’s $2.25T spread out over 10 years. For context, the COVID package was $1.9T for this year *alone,* with some provisions lasting 2 years. Needs to be way bigger.

Advertisement:

“I think it’s a step towards our vision of a Green New Deal,” Ellen Sciales, a spokesperson for Sunrise Movement, echoed. “But the truth is this does not meet the scale and the scope of what we need to meet the true scale and urgency of the climate crisis.”

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, likewise called the bill a “fine starting point.”

Under Biden’s current proposal, the federal government would, among other measures, allot $621 billion to transportation infrastructures such as bridges, ports, and roads; put $580 billion toward American manufacturing, job training, and research and development; designate $400 billion to care for elderly and disabled Americans; invest $300 billion into constructing and repairing affordable housing, as well as schools; infuse the U.S. electric vehicle industry with $174 billion, and dedicate $5 billion to repair every lead pipe and service line nationally.

“These are investments we have to make,” Biden said of the bill on Wednesday. “We can afford to make them. To put it another way — we can’t afford not to.”

However, many progressive Democrats have already proposed a spate of separate bills designed to expand the bill’s scope of influence. For instance, Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Rep. Andry Levin, D-Mich., introduced a bill that would subsidize the purchase of sustainable products made in America. 

The Progressive Congressional Caucus on Monday floated the Transform, Heal and Renew by Investing in a Vibrant Economy (THRIVE) Act, which calls for a $10 trillion investment in green infrastructure, renewable energy, and other climate justice measures over the next decade. The bill heavily addresses racial inequality and dedicates 40% of federal investments to minority groups that have been “excluded, oppressed and harmed by racist unjust practices.”

Advertisement:

“We are facing a series of intersecting crises,” Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass, the bill’s co-sponsor, said. “Climate change, a public health pandemic, racial injustice and economic inequality. We can’t defeat any of these crises alone. We must develop a roadmap for recovery that addresses them all.”

An analysis conducted by the Sierra Club, an environmental nonprofit, found that the THRIVE Act would generate 15 million jobs. The bill is part of a broader push spearheaded by Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, who unveiled the THRIVE agenda when she was representative for New Mexico. According to Data for Progress, Haaland’s agenda drew broad support from Americans, especially swing voters.

Advertisement:

“We need a plan that will end the unemployment crisis, but we need this plan to also fight systemic racism, protect public health and drastically cut down on climate pollution,” Markey said. “We cannot go back to business as usual. We have a chance to truly, in this moment, to build back better and greener than ever before.” 

Jon Skolnik

Jon Skolnik is a staff writer at Salon. His work has appeared in Current Affairs, The Baffler, AlterNet, and The New York Daily News. MORE FROM Jon SkolnikFOLLOW @skolnik_jon

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Climate/Weather, Energy, International, Local, News, Regional, Science/Technology, Technology, TOURISM0 Comments

Okra

Nutritional Value & Health Benefits of Okra (ochro)

  Okra is a powerhouse of valuable nutrients. Nearly half of which is soluble fiber in the form of gums and pectins. Soluble fiber helps to lower serum cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart disease. The other half is insoluble fiber which helps to keep the intestinal tract healthy decreasing the risk of some forms of cancer, especially colorectal cancer. Nearly 10% of the recommended levels of vitamin B6 and folic acid are also present in a half cup of cooked okra.

These suggestions may be more palatable …
toss okra in oil and grill for about 10 min till blackened and crunchy
add diced tomatoes
The acid in the tomatoes cuts the slime of okra
*ochro - okra 2 - Copy**********
chop onion
trim and slice okra
butter in skillet (I guess can use EVOO)

stir in onions, then okra
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp coriander
ground black pepper
salt
stir often
can add diced tomatoes
*************************
quick dunk in hot oil
fry
*********
oil, sliced garlic till golden
add okra and splash of water to lightly steam
cover for 20 minutes
******

cornmeal coating and fry

NOTE: Drink GREEN TEA WITH IT — that shrinks tumors

I drank gallons of the stuff for yrs…

Nutritional Value & Health Benefits

Okra is a powerhouse of valuable nutrients. Nearly half of which is soluble fiber in the form of gums and pectins. Soluble fiber helps to lower serum cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart disease. The other half is insoluble fiber which helps to keep the intestinal tract healthy decreasing the risk of some forms of cancer, especially colorectal cancer. Nearly 10% of the recommended levels of vitamin B6 and folic acid are also present in a half cup of cooked okra.

Nutrition Facts (1/2 cup sliced, cooked okra)

Calories 25   Dietary Fiber 2 grams
Protein 1.52 grams   Carbohydrates 5.76 grams
Vitamin A 460 IU   Vitamin C 13.04 mg
Folic acid 36.5 micrograms   Calcium 50.4 mg
Iron 0.4 mg   Potassium 256.6 mg
Magnesium 46 mg   

Preparation & Serving

 

Okra exudes a unique mucilaginous juice which is responsible for its thickening power in the famous Louisiana Creole gumbo dish. Aside from gumbo, okra compliments tomatoes, onions and corn, shellfish and fish stock. Okra has a subtle taste, similar to the flavor of eggplant.

Home Preservation

Freezing is the best method for long term home storage of okra. Freeze only young, tender okra. Okra must be blanched before freezing, as with all vegetables. Unblanched okra will quickly become tough and suffer huge nutrient, flavor and color loss during freezing. Follow the procedure outlined below for successful home freezing.ochro - okra 1 - Copy

To Prepare Okra for Freezing

Since freezing does not improve the quality of any vegetable, it is important to start with fresh green pods. Avoid pods longer than 2 to 2-1/2 inches long. Okra that is at peak quality for eating is best for freezing.

  1. In a blanching pot or large pot with tight fitting lid, bring about 5 quarts of water to a rolling boil.
  2. Meanwhile, wash, and trim of stems of okra pods, leaving caps whole.
  3. Blanch no more than one pound of okra at a time. Drop pods into boiling water and immediately cover with a tight fitting lid.
  4. Start timing the blanching immediately and blanch for four minutes.
  5. Prepare an ice water bath in a large 5 to 6 quart container or use the sink.
  6. Remove the okra from the blanching water with a slotted spoon or blanching basket.
  7. Emerge the okra in the ice water bath for 5 min. or until completely cool. If ice is unavailable, use several changes of cold tap water to cool the vegetables.
  8. Remove from water and drain.
  9. Label and date, quart size, zip-closure freezer bags.
  10. Pack okra into prepared freezer bags, squeeze out as much air as possible by folding the top portion of the bag over. Gently push air out and seal. Freeze for up to one year at 32°F or below.

Note: Blanching water and ice water bath may be used over and over again. Return blanching water to a boil after each batch of vegetables is blanched and replenish water if necessary.

 

For more: Can you browse on the internet

http://urbanext.illinois.edu/veggies/okra.cfm

http://her2support.org/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=60370

Recipes

Okra and Corn with Tomatoes

Serve this Carolina favorite over a bowl of long-grain rice with a piece of hot cornbread. The okra should be young, not longer than 2 inches. Vine ripen tomatoes and fresh bell peppers add to the richness of this dish.

  • 2 tablespoons each butter and canola oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced into rounds
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon each thyme, red pepper flakes and basil
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
  • 3 large fresh ripe, tomatoes seeded and chopped
  • 4 ears corn, remove kernels, about 2 cups
    (may use frozen or canned whole kernel, drained)
  • 2 cups small okra pods, left whole or 1/4-inch-thick rounds
  • 1/2 cup water or chicken stock
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

In a 10 inch iron skillet or heavy pan, heat olive oil and add onions, bay leaves, thyme, basil, and red pepper flakes. Sauté, and stir until onions are limp add bell pepper and continue cooking until onions are translucent. Add tomatoes, okra, water, salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low, and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add corn and cook 5 minutes longer. Taste, adjust seasoning if needed. Serve hot.

Makes 6 servings.


Okra and Green Beans

This dish tastes even better after refrigerating overnight. The flavors blend into a wonderful taste sensation. Serve it warm or cold. This dish can also be oven-baked. Instead of simmering, lightly cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes at 350°F.

  • 3/4 pound fresh okra, uncut
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Vinegar (optional)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3/4 pound fresh green beans
  • 2 large garlic cloves, crushed then chopped
  • 1 cup water plus 2 tablespoonssalt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 6-ounce can tomato paste

Wash okra pods, trim stems, do not remove caps. If desired soak okra in vinegar for 30 minutes to remove some of the stickiness. Rinse well and drain. Wash beans and cut into 3 inch lengths. Combine water, tomato paste, olive oil, onion, garlic, salt and pepper in a sauce pan and mix well.

Heat, stirring frequently, until mixture comet to boil. Add okra and beans and additional water if necessary to almost cover vegetables.

Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer gently until vegetables are crisp-tender, 20 to 30 minutes.

Makes 6 servings.

 

Posted in COVID-19, Energy, Health, International, Local, News, Regional, Youth190 Comments

signing-fibre-optic-contract

Fibre Optic Cable Project Breakthrough!

How do we now move on to a digital productivity-driven economic breakout?

Head of the Programme Management Office, Martin Parlett; Director of DITES, Denzil West; Permanent Secretary, Office of the Premier, Daphne Cassell; and Premier, Honourable Donaldson Romeo. Photo Credit: GoM/GIU

BRADES, Montserrat, October 26, 2019 –  On Thursday, October 24, Premier Donaldson Romeo announced that he is standing aside from the PDM Candidates list for the November 18th election. In saying this, he listed various achievements of the PDM administration. The first of these is strategically decisive for Montserrat:

“. . . after a ten-year fight, just today, October 24th, 2019, we have signed off the contract for the laying of the undersea Fibre Optic Cable worth EC$17 million. This is one-sixth of the CIPREG EC$100 million programme. The fibre optic cable project will open up the dynamic digital sector with many opportunities for internet server farms, business, and financial services, telemedicine, multimedia education, web-based enterprises, digital multimedia products, and lots more. This will lead to jobs, especially for our digitally-minded youth.”

Premier Romeo also had a few words for “naysayers” on the CIPREG Project: “The naysayers who so often publicly mocked the reality of these projects and sometimes suggested they were fake were wrong; they should now come clean to the people of Montserrat.” (Though this is a surprisingly strong remark for this Premier, it is understandable given how insistently the “naysayers” said and suggested such, in the face of mounting evidence. The “naysayers” now have a lesson to learn and face a character test. A fair comment is: if good news for Montserrat is bad news for you, and bad news for Montserrat is good news for you, you have a serious problem. Our voters will decide pass/fail, come Nov. 18.)

Now, based on a Government press release[1] dated October 25 we can fill in some details on the project:

“ . . . [T]he Government of Montserrat through the Capital Investment Programme for Resilient Economic Growth (CIPREG) today signed a landmark multi-million-dollar deal with Southern Caribbean Fiber (SCF), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Digicel Group, for the installation of a new subsea fibre optic cable system . . . .  the transformational 15-year agreement, worth in excess of XCD$16m,[2] sees SCF managing, maintaining and operating a new 25 kilometre [ = 15.6 miles ] fibre optic cable which paves the way for faster, more reliable and more resilient internet connectivity through Guadeloupe and Antigua. The agreement also provides for ten years of high-speed broadband internet access for the delivery of its services for the Government of Montserrat for free. SCF won the contract as part of a competitive international tendering process, and aims to complete the installation of Montserrat’s new fibre optic system by the summer of 2020 . . . . The Project will be overseen by the Programme Management Office in the Ministry of Finance, and the Department for Information Technology and E-Government Services (DITES) under the portfolio of the Office of the Premier. ”

A revealing fact here, is that we are to have a 15 mile cable, where Antigua is 26 miles away and Guadeloupe is even further. This means, logically, that we must be getting a “spur line” to a junction box inserted in an existing SCF/Digicel subsea Fibre Optic Cable between those two islands that obviously runs 15 miles off our coast.  No wonder SCF/Digicel won the bid! (The bonus is, we get a tie-in to Europe through Guadeloupe and one to the USA through Antigua. Two birds with one stone.)

What can we do with this opportunity? Many things:

  • We need to put in further, hurricane-proof underground fibre optic cable across the island so that households, schools, the hospital, businesses, new digital economy enterprises and Government can have fast, reliable digital access. (Yes, thanks to Lime and Digicel, we already have some underground fibre optic cable, as well as some that run in the air from telephone pole to telephone pole.)
  • We need to back this up with adequate standby generation so the cables won’t go down due to power cuts.
  • Longer term, we need to put in Geothermal Energy-based electricity, as this is one of the two most reliable electricity energy sources; along with large scale hydroelectric generation. (The Thermal Energy Partners estimates indicate that we may have over 100 MW of potential.[3])
  • This opens up opportunities for GT energy backed, Fibre Optic Cable connected server farms providing Internet, multimedia and business services.
  • As we are native English speakers – living in a low crime, UK Overseas Territory, emerald isle, tropical paradise (we have spring water in our taps!) – at a longitude between the US and Europe, Call Centres and the like are just the low hanging fruit.
  • Imagine, the impact of just a few investors moving to villas here with state of the art global fibre optic connectivity to do instant trading on the markets while they can pop over to a tropical beach in five minutes, or instead go for a lush tropical forest mountain hike just for a change of pace.
  • That points to business or art retreat centers, similarly globally connected.
  • Mix in Offshore Medical Universities and research centers and we can see telemedicine and specialist treatment facilities open up as major opportunities.
  • Of course, the to-be-rebuilt Glendon Hospital [£15m under CIPREG] must be wired for telemedicine and multimedia digital medical/nursing education.
  • As the new CXC Registrar announced here in August, CXC is moving regional education to a digital base. Blend that with multimedia, server farms and on-call services and digital education opportunities beckon. (Entertainment, music and television opportunities are too obvious to detail.)
  • Last June, we here at TMR pointed out[4] that since 2013, the UK has launched a Computing in Schools initiative for ages 5 to 16. We need something similar in Montserrat and the wider Caribbean. We need a digital workforce to go with a digital world.
  • You fill in ________ (the sky is the limit).

[1] GoM http://www.gov.ms/montserrat-selects-southern-caribbean-fiber-in-multi-million-dollar-subsea-fibre-optic-cable/?fbclid=IwAR24Mc48jd46Qs7H0rBujgDduEUq_VCqiJS4kpzIFoHhKAVRQWpBrGG0MFg

[2]  NOTE: £4.9 mn x 3.50 = EC$ 17.15 mn.

[3] TMR https://www.themontserratreporter.com/montserrats-geothermal-energy-gold-mine/

[4] TMR https://www.themontserratreporter.com/montserrat-go-digital-or-go-bust/

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Columns, De Ole Dawg, Elections, Energy, Features, International, Local, Regional0 Comments

electric charging station

GoM offering duty and tax exemptions on imported electric vehicles

Minister of Finance and Premier, Donaldson Romeo announced yesterday, Thursday at a rare press conference where he addressed or updated on the government’s ongoing economic growth strategy, that his government has agreed to the new policy in line with their green energy mandate.

One of the electric vehicle charging plant

He informed that as a result of the Cabinet decision regarding importing “green” vehicles, over the next five years 100% Electric Vehicles will be exempt from all customs duties and consumption tax; however, processing fees will still be payable. “Hybrid” electric vehicles are to be exempt from customs duties for the next two years.

Other “hybrids” (other than plug-in “hybrids”) are to be exempt from consumption tax for two years. Also, replacement batteries and charging stations will be exempt from customs duties and excise tax for five years. Currently, there are two electric vehicle charging stations, one at the Public Works workshop and one at the Ministry of Works.

Conditions apply: All must be certified by the Director of Public Works to receive the exemptions.

A processing  fee of five percent is payable in all cases.

The Ministry of Communications, Works, Energy and Labour (MCWEL) has received its first electric vehicle and is expected to unveil it shortly.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Energy, International, Local, News, OECS0 Comments

Ronald-Jacksoon - C

Caribbean urged to be fully prepared for 2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season

by staff writer

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Jun 1, CMC – The 2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season officially got started on Saturday with the Barbados-based  Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) urging the population in the region to be fully prepared for any eventuality over the next six months.

The US-based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting there will be nine to 15 named storms during the hurricane season that ends on November 30.


Ronald Jackson (CMC Photo)

Forecasters are also predicting four to eight of  the storms will become hurricanes and two to four would become major hurricanes with 111 miles per hour (mph) winds or higher.

But CDEMA executive director, Ronald Jackson, said that regardless of how many storms are predicted, the Caribbean should be fully prepared for any eventuality.

“We do not get fixated on whether it is above below, or average…we focus more on ensuring that we go through the season prepared. There is nothing called over preparing as you would have seen in 2017 when we had three Category 5 hurricanes,” he told reporters.

In 2017, Hurricanes Irma and Maria lashed several Caribbean countries as they made their way through the Lesser Antilles leaving behind a trail of death and destruction estimated at billions of US dollars.

Jackson reminded the Caribbean that hurricanes were now manifesting themselves at a faster rate than before “to a situation where they went from a Category 2 to category 5 in a very short period of time.

“So we have to be prepared for any eventuality. We have to recognise that we have a history of damage, extensive damage from severe rainfall,” he said, adding that CDEMA has been promoting all year round the need to ensure ‘we could deal with any eventuality”.

He said several initiatives had been undertaken and the Barbados-based regional agency was also preparing for volcanic and earthquake incidents during the hurricane season.

“I know it is the hurricane season but we are also upgrading the volcanic, earthquake and tsunami aspects of our plan.

“Again, simply because it does not matter if you are in the hurricane season, you can have an event of nature, a volcano, tsunami or earthquake given the setting here in the Caribbean,” Jackson added.

Posted in Climate/Weather, Energy, Hurricane, News0 Comments

Solar pv handover

Is this end of Geothermal Energy development?

“No!” says Premier Romeo, also Minister Lewis – as solar energy emerges

https://www.themontserratreporter.com/bright-openings-for-2019/

Solar Energy Released

Even coming on the heels of the pulling out of Icelandic drilling equipment from the compound encompassing the MON3 well, the drilling site for the continuing project of “Unlocking the Geothermal Potential of Montserrat” and the news of the report that end of the project, Montserrat on Monday celebrated a milestone in the “green” renewable energy development.

Premier Romeo as he thanked the European Development Fund, EDF 10, for major funding, with other funding, “sourced through our own Ministry of Finance; and as always, this was supported by DfID,” opened his remarks at the handing over ceremony of the completed 250 kilowatt solar project to Montserrat Utilities Limited (MUL).

“Today is a milestone for Montserrat, as we formally commission our 250-kilowatt Solar, photovolt type powerplant. It’s good news to know that it is now on grid, and it represents 10% of our load demand. MUL now has a renewable energy driven powerplant that is capable of carrying about 10% of our peak load.

“As we go forward. Plans are in place to add a further 750 kilowatt of solar PV capacity with some battery back-up. When this is in place we will have one megawatt of solar PV capacity which can supply about 40% of our current electricity consumption. We will not stop here, clearly. For as we continue to explore green energy, like the rest of the world, we will keep an eye on wind, biofuels, electric vehicles, and of course, geothermal.

“On geothermal, we have already two wells that have proven capacity to support our needs. And, a third well that has unfortunately met with technical difficulties. However, we are still moving forward to develop this form of green energy, through working with partners to bring geothermal power plant in place,” he said.

He noted: “Thanks are due to – through hard, persistent work the Ministry of Communications and Works, the consultants, STANTEC and the contractor SALT Energy, all led by Hon Lewis, the plant was successfully completed within the EDF 10 deadline.”

ZJB reported that on Monday, in the history of electrical generation on Montserrat, Hon Energy Minister Paul Lewis, handed over the completed 250 kilowatt solar project to MUL, during a special ceremony at the MUL car park at the station.

The project is the realisation of Mr. Lewis and the government’s vision to see solar become a key contributor to Montserrat’s green energy production capabilities.

It is anticipated, the report continued, that with the inclusion of the 250kilowatt solar into the National grid, there will be an expected reduction in the fuel surcharge. And eventually lower MUL’s consumer bills. The 250kilowatt solar project.

The reported noted this is the first phase of the eventual one megawatt solar PV project as planned. The next stage will be the 750kilowatt solar PV project with box for storage and as Minister Lewis explains the aim is to incorporate other sources of renewable energy into the national grid.

Meanwhile Kendal Lee the Managing Director of (MUL) outlined that the historic storage integration of solar power into the national grid is in line with the vision of the company.

He explained that the consensus of a staff meeting some years ago was that the company should become the greenest provider of utility services in the Caribbean, and, now he concedes that the reintroduction of renewable energy generation into company’s electricity portfolio shows that they are heading in the right direction.

European Union (EU) officer Kyle Walrond who was present at the handing over ceremony cemented the EU’s committment to supporting the renewal of energy and the sufficiency sustainable development as [Montserrat] like other territories in the region progress to agreeing economy.

The EU rep noted, “As you know we are committed to support the effort that goes toward mitigation of climate change worldwide and every step, small or big towards our common goal of making peace with our planet. This occasion marks yet another milestone in our countries’ development. As Montserrat forges ahead with its goal of transitioning from a fossil fuel based energy sector to a renewable based energy sector.”

He revealed that the  EDF program will also assist the government and its goals to replace conventional street light with LED lighting, solar lighting for roads and other infrastructure matters adjacent to main powers will also be installed with support from the European Union.

The last time the company utilized renewable energy as part of its generation mix was from 1989 through to 1995. When it operated 2 – 100 kilowatt vectors wind turbine machines at St. George’s Hill.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Energy, Environment, Featured, Local, News, Regional0 Comments

RE-SAT Montserrat

Minister welcomes new renewable energy space technology initiative for Montserrat

UK-based Institute for Environmental Analytics is to partner with the Government of Montserrat to implement an innovative renewable energy analytics platform – RE-SAT – to support the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

The partnership has been made possible by investment from the UK Space Agency International Partnership Programme (IPP) and reflects Montserrat’s position at the forefront of promoting clean growth.

RE-SAT fuses satellite and in-situ weather data with advanced analytics to provide highly detailed renewable energy information to help users:  

  • Explore and define the best renewable energy mix.
  • Plan where to locate different renewable energy infrastructure.
  • Assess the potential financial viability of renewable energy investments.
  • Estimate power production and variability, taking into account seasonal weather patterns.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is being signed to mark the partnership between the Ministry of Communications, Works, Energy and Labour (MCWEL) and the IEA. They will work together and with other key stakeholders to tailor RE-SAT to their needs and build capacity to support its implementation, combining the IEA’s expertise with in-country knowledge and skills.

Minister of Communications, Works, Energy and Labour, Paul Lewis welcomed the collaboration, saying: “The Government of Montserrat’s vision to transform to 100% renewable energy on the grid and its green connected and thriving ICT theme clearly merges ICT, telecommunications and energy agenda to create an environment for economic growth. The MoU between MCWEL and the UK-based Institute for Environmental Analytics to implement an innovative, renewable energy analytics planning platform to support the transition from fossil fuel to renewable energy is welcomed.

“This tool will inform decisions pertaining to best possible energy sources and combinations, ideal energy infrastructure locations, estimated power production and variability based on seasonal weather patterns. We embrace the development and use of this tool to inform the Government and private sector renewable energy investments.

“I express our gratitude to IEA and the UK Space Agency for including Montserrat as one of the six small island developing states in their International Partnership Programme. We look forward to working together in the development of our island.”

Permanent Secretary Beverley Mendes added: “The Ministry of Communication, Works, Energy and Labour is pleased to have been afforded the opportunity to be at the forefront of this collaboration

between the Government of Montserrat and UK-based, Institute for Environmental Analytics. The development and application of a renewable energy analytical planning platform will allow for more informed decisions to be made as it pertains to the investigation, implementation and improvement of renewable energy sources on Montserrat. A number of Government entities have been enlisted in the development process to ensure the platform is equipped with the necessary data. We are looking forward to working with the IEA on such an important initiative.”

Colin McKinnon, CEO of the IEA, said: “By working closely with Montserrat we will provide the quality of data they need to develop a sound business case to switch to renewable sources to a far greater extent. Understanding minute-by-minute variability is a key question as it affects the requirement for reserve energy generation. However, long periods of historic observations are often not available from existing data sources. With our world-leading skills in data analytics we will use Earth observation data to construct a synthetic weather model for Montserrat to improve both the planning of renewable investment and also the management of reserve capacity.

“As RE-SAT is funded by the UK Space Agency International Partnership Programme, the project runs as a true partnership, using the knowledge and expertise of our Montserrat partners. It is not a one-off consultancy exercise by a third party.”

Graham Turnock, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, said: “We’re proud to support Montserrat in their transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, which will deliver greater self-sufficiency while reducing global carbon emissions to combat climate change.”

Montserrat is one of six small-island developing states (SIDS) to benefit from £2.9m investment from the UK Space Agency IPP in RE-SAT. The others are: St Lucia, Mauritius, Palau, Tonga and Vanuatu.

Posted in Energy, International, Local, News, OECS, Regional, Technology0 Comments

Nevis Premier in search of cash to make geothermal project a reality

Nevis Premier in search of cash to make geothermal project a reality

CHARLESTOWN, Nevis, Nov 21, CMC –Premier Mark Brantley says an estimated EC$60 million (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents) is needed to develop the stalled geothermal project on the island.

“I think that at this stage all of us know that what we’ve been waiting on is for production of the energy and that would require the necessary investment to drill the production wells and to build the plant and to do tie into the connectivity between the plant and NEVLEC (Nevis Electricity Company Limited) so that NEVLEC can transmit the power,” Brantley told a news conference.

(File Photo)

He said that is what has proven most difficult because Nevis Island Administration had been able to raise the resources to do the exploration and it’s just for the production.

“The developers have had difficulty raising those monies (and) they have brought in recent months Black Rock Securities which they say is going to provide some equity financing and OPIC (Overseas Private Investment Corporation) … which is an arm of the United States government which is supposed to provide some debt financing.

“If we had the money we would do it ourselves, to be honest cause then we would only have to hire experts but it would be something that we do as a project but the problem is the funding,’ Brantley said.

He told reporters that two sources for financing have been identified but that process might take several months to materialize if at all.

“The last that I’ve heard is that OPIC has okayed their side of things to do the financing for the project on the debt side but I’m not sure what the result of the Black Rock due diligence is going to be.

“Each of those entities takes between three to six months to do their due diligence and so that process has been an ongoing process. We have had visits from both OPIC and Black Rock Securities I believe they were all here towards the middle of this year and so we await final word,” Brantley said.

But he sought to assure citizens that the NIA remains committed to bringing geothermal on stream for the benefit of the people of Nevis and the rest of the twin island-federation.

Earlier this year, GeothermEX, a subsidiary of Schlumberger Company that focuses on geothermal energy testing, said its findings confirm the requisite temperature and flow necessary for a sustainable supply of geothermal energy on Nevis and the reservoir has been classified as high-grade commercial quality.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Energy, Featured, International, Local, OECS, Technology0 Comments

Finance Minister stands by earlier statements on “drug fuelled” economy

Finance Minister stands by earlier statements on “drug fuelled” economy

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Oct 31, CMC – Finance Minister Winston Jordan Wednesday maintained that the Guyana economy was partly fuelled by drugs under the previous administration and brushed aside a request by a leading private sector group to provide evidence of the allegation.

Jordan, speaking at a news conference here, made reference to the request from the Private Sector Commission (PSC) for him to provide it with the evidence indicating that the local economy was partly fuelled by drugs money under the last government.

Finance Minister Winston Jordan speaking to reporters

He told reporters that there were two studies presented by Economics Professor Clive Thomas which pointed to the impact of drug money on the Guyanese economy pre-2015.

“I will tell you this much, where the economy is today is proof positive that the economy was being run by drugs, by significant input from drugs”, Jordan said, adding that when he made his statement in a letter to a local newspaper recently, he did not refer to any private sector body.

“Now if as Bob says who the cap fit, then that’s fine,” he said, adding that his statement was specific to some in the private sector who benefited from nefarious activities.

“I was amazed to be quite honest when I got a letter from that gentleman asking me to provide proof to the private sector. I was amazed”.

Jordan said that he is busy preparing the national budget and other activities of his Ministry and therefore does not have the time to waste on the request from the PSC.

Jordan told reporters that with at least US$300 million being projected for the government’s coffers from ExxonMobil’s LIZA One well during the first year, there will many expected improvements.

“There will be improvements in the cultural, social and economic areas,” he said, referring to the expected revenues from initial oil production in 2020.

But he cautioned that funds will be spent carefully and in accordance with proposed legislation intended to govern the use of the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF).

This legislation is being finalized by the Ministry of Legal Affairs, with assistance from stakeholders from Commonwealth, Caribbean Development Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank.

Jordon told reporters that the expected funds will be kept in the SWF, then transferred to the Consolidated Fund, before it can be utilized.

He said one area being considered for improvements is the pensions of former managers and other government officials who, as a result of currency devaluations and other factors, receive a basic minimum pension.

Guyana is projecting commercial production of its oil sector by 2020 and according to the government, other areas of priority include infrastructural development, and agriculture, housing and manufacturing sectors.

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

Please Support The Montserrat Reporter

This is bottom line for us! Unless we receive your support, our effort will not be able to continue. Whatever and however you can, please support The Montserrat Reporter in whatever amount you can (and whatever frequency) – and it only takes a minute.
Thank you

TMR print pages

Newsletter

Archives

CARICOM – Staff Vacancy

CXC HEADQUARTERS - Executive Search

https://indd.adobe.com/embed/2b4deb22-cf03-4509-9bbd-938c7e8ecc7d

A Moment with the Registrar of Lands