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Legislation passed to grant undocumented Caribbean immigrants access to driver’s licenses

Legislation passed to grant undocumented Caribbean immigrants access to driver’s licenses

by STAFF WRITER

NEW YORK, Jun  13, CMC – New York State Democratic-controlled House of Assembly on Wednesday passed legislation that would permit undocumented Caribbean and other immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses.  

The Assembly said that the Driver’s License Access and Privacy Act (A.3675-B), also known as the Green Light Bill, “will create safer roads for all New Yorkers, boost the state’s economy and protect hardworking New Yorkers and their families. 

“Until 2001, this fundamental privilege was extended to all New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status,” said the Assembly in a statement.

The Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, who traces his roots to the Bahamas said: “While opponents continue to spread misinformation and stoke fears about the bill’s intent and consequences, the Assembly Majority will continue to put the needs of New Yorkers first.

“The legislation passed today will promote public safety, protect our state’s economy and ensure every New Yorker can integrate into their community and care for their family,” said Heastie, who represents the Bronx. “Making sure that every driver is trained, tested and insured will make New York’s roads safer for everyone and ensure that our industries have the labor they need to keep our economy moving.”

Heastie said the Driver’s License and Privacy Act would expand the types of proof of identity that could be submitted with an application for a non-commercial driver’s license that does not meet US federal standards for identification. 

He said an applicant without a social security number could instead submit a signed affidavit that they have not been issued a social security number.

The Assembly noted that 12 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia have enacted legislation that would allow undocumented Caribbean and other immigrants to obtain a driver’s license, “many of which have reported fewer accidents and traffic fatalities.”

A 2017 Stanford University study found that California’s law expanding access to drivers’ licenses led to a drop in hit-and-run accidents between seven and 10 per cent, or about 4,000 fewer hit-and-run accidents, and saving not-at-fault drivers US$3.5 million in out-of-pocket expenses for car repairs, according to the Assembly. 

“Today’s legislation would make everyday tasks such as getting to work, shopping for groceries or picking up kids from school vastly easier for an estimated 265,000 people in New York, including 64,000 north of New York City,” the statement said. 

It said the policy change would generate an estimated US$57 million in combined government revenues that would recur annually, as well as a US$26 million one-time boost in revenues as more people get licenses.  

Steve Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition, said the measure “will bring hundreds of thousands of immigrants out from the shadows and make New York’s roads safer.” 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has said he will sign the legislation if the State’s Senate approves it. The Senate is expected soon to schedule a vote on the bill.

Posted in International, Local, News, Regional, Travel0 Comments

BVI government to improve border security

BVI government to improve border security

by STAFF WRITER

TORTOLA, British Virgin Islands, Jun 3 CMC – Over US$6-million will be spent to improve border security across this British Overseas territory.

Immigration Minister Vincent Wheatley  says the move shows that the current administration is serious  about advancing the territory.

Vincent Wheatley

“For as long as I can recall, there have been complaints and heavy criticism levied against Labour and Immigration departments.That is why Cabinet recently approved the sum of $6.4 million for the purchase of a new state-of-the-art Immigration border management system.”

This comes several months after Governor Augustus announced that travellers arriving and departing the BVI will be subject to heightened security measures to include the implementation of an Advance Passenger Information (API) System.

Meanwhile, Wheatley said he intends to give support to the departments of Labour and Immigration by introducing policies and legislation to help reform and improve them.

Concerning plans for the online amalgamation of the Labour and Immigration departments, Wheatley, who is also Labour Minister, says this has already started.

“It’s currently undergoing testing. We are using a test group of 32 different businesses – which will soon be open to the wider public,” adding that the undertaking is scheduled to be ready for the broader public by July.

“It is only the beginning. Later on this month, we will be launching a few more initiatives within that department starting with a name change,” he said.

Posted in CARICOM, Local, News, OECS, Politics, Regional, Security, Technology, Travel0 Comments

Fixtures

Inaugural OECS/ECCB International Netball Series

14 June 2019, Basseterre, St Kitts and Nevis – Five netball teams from across the OECS will compete for the first Gloria Ballantyne Championship Trophy in the inaugural OECS/ECCB International Netball Series, which will be held in St Vincent and the Grenadines from June 15 – 21 .

The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), in collaboration with the OECS Commission, the Caribbean Netball Association and the St Vincent and the Grenadines Netball Association, will host the OECS/ECCB International Netball Series under the theme: Excellence and Empowerment Through Sports.  This Series replaces the OECS/ECCB Under-23 Netball tournament, which the ECCB sponsored from 1991-2018.

The ECCB’s sponsorship of the OECS/ECCB International Netball Series demonstrates the Bank’s vision of fostering regional integration and its commitment to the overall development and empowerment of the region’s women through sports.

Governor of the ECCB, Timothy N. J. Antoine said:The ECCB remains fully committed to the development of our young women through the sport of netball. After 28 years of sponsorship, our Bank is pleased to help take the sport to a higher level through enhanced support for the launch of the International Netball Series.”

The OECS/ECCB International Netball Series will provide the participating teams with the opportunity to play international netball matches and gain world netball ranking. It will also highlight elite netballers in the OECS on the international platform and establish pathways for OECS netballers to enhance their competence in the sport.

The Series will commence with the Official Opening Ceremony on 15 June, following which teams Antigua and Barbuda, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Saint Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines will compete for netball supremacy at the Arnos Vale Sporting Complex. The championship trophy is named in honour of Gloria Ballantyne of
St. Vincent and the Grenadines, who has been influential in regional netball for several decades.

The netballers will also participate in a developmental session on the theme: Charting a Course: A Financial Guide for Women. Villette Browne, Managing Director of the KP Group of companies in St Vincent and the Grenadines, will conduct the session. They will also have the opportunity to engage in discussion with the netball officials about the future of the sport in the region.

Posted in Local, News, OECS, Regional, Regional Sports, Sports0 Comments

CCJ to hand down rulings in two sets of cases from Guyana

CCJ to hand down rulings in two sets of cases from Guyana

by staff writer

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Jun 12, CMC – The Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) says it will on Tuesday deliver judgements in two sets of cases from Guyana that could have implications for the political environment in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country.

The CCJ, which is Guyana’s highest court, said Wednesday that its first judgement will “determine whether the appointment, or the process followed in the appointment, of Guyana’s Elections Commission (GECOM) Chairman breached the Constitution”.

President David Granger had appointed retired justice James Patterson as GECOM chairman following the resignation of Dr. Steve Surujbally, in November 2016. Surujbally stepped down from office at the end of February 2017.

Last year, Acting Chief Justice Roxanne George-Wiltshire dismissed an application by a senior member of the main opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) challenging Granger’s decision to appoint a chairman from outside the lists provided to him by the Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo.

PPP executive Secretary, Zulfikar Mustapha, had called on the High Court to declare that the appointment of Patterson violated the constitution and is “accordingly unlawful, illegal, unconstitutional, null, void and of no effect”.

The opposition party had also claimed that Justice Patterson is not constitutionally qualified to be appointed GECOM chairman and wanted the High Court to grant an order “rescinding, revoking, cancelling and setting aside the appointment”.

The CCJ said that its second judgement on Tuesday will “determine three consolidated cases arising from last December’s motion of no confidence in the government.

“One of the main issues in that case was whether 33 or 34 votes were required to carry the motion given that the membership of the National Assembly totalled 65 members. Another issue in dispute was whether one of the members of the National Assembly who voted in favour of the motion was ineligible so to vote because he was disqualified from membership of the National Assembly as a result of his citizenship of Canada,” it said.

Jagdeo had challenged the ruling of the Court of Appeal in his country that invalidated a motion of no confidence that was passed in the National Assembly in December 21, last year.

When the matters came before the High Court in Guyana in January, it ruled that only 33 votes were required. However, on appeal to the Court of Appeal, the three-member panel by a 2-1 majority held that 34 votes were required.

Charrandass Persaud, who was then a government legislator voted in support of the motion in the National Assembly, ensuring that the coalition administration lost its one-seat majority in the 65-member legislative body.

The Guyana government had argued in the appeal that Persaud was ineligible to vote because he held dual citizenship.

The CCJ said that it will begin delivering the rulings at 10.00 am (local time) on Tuesday.

Posted in CARICOM, Court, Elections, International, Local, News, Politics, Regional0 Comments

Former FIFA Vice president loses challenge to his extradition to United States

Former FIFA Vice president loses challenge to his extradition to United States

by staff writer

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Jun 11, CMC – The Court of Appeal Tuesday dismissed a judicial review by former international football official, Austin Jack Warner, challenging his extradition to the United States where he is wanted on charges of fraud arising out of a Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) bribery scandal.

Warner, a former government minister, had earlier appealed the ruling by High Court judge James Aboud, who had dismissed the claim for judicial review.

Austin Jack Warner (File Photo)

Warner had challenged the process by which the extradition proceedings against him were being carried out and sought to quash the authority to proceed (ATP) which was signed in 2016 by Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi.

The ATP gave the magistrate the green light to begin committal proceedings. Warner also challenged the legality of the Extradition (Commonwealth and Foreign Territories) Act, and the treaty signed between this country and the US.

But in dismissing the latest claim, the three-member Appeals Court, stayed the magisterial proceedings for 21 days pending an application by Warner for permission to argue his case at the London-based Privy Council, the country’s highest and final court.

In the 40-page written decision, the Court of Appeal comprising Justices Gregory Smith, Prakash Moosai and Andre des Vignes said the extradition treaty had not been shown to lack conformity with the Act and there was no merit in Warner’s case that the US order which declared that country as a declared foreign territory was not valid.

“Therefore, the pending extradition proceedings in respect of the appellant before the magistrate are valid,” the Court of Appeal ruled, adding that “there was no denial of justice in the issuance of the ATP by the Attorney General”.

Warner, who is on TT$2.5 million (One TT dollar=US$0.16 cents) bail, was indicted by US authorities over allegations of racketeering, wire fraud and money-laundering conspiracies spanning 24 years.

Warner, who served as FIFA vice-president for several years, is charged with 12 offences related to racketeering, corruption and money laundering allegedly committed in the jurisdiction of the United States and Trinidad and Tobago, dating as far back as 1990.

But Warner claims the case against him is politically motivated and accuses the United States of seeking revenge because it lost to Qatar in its bid to host the 2022 World Cup.”

He surrendered himself to police here on May 27, 2015, after learning of the provisional warrant.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Court, International Sports, Legal, Local, News, Regional, Regional Sports, Sports0 Comments

Regional fight against corruption to be discussed at “anti-corruption” conference

Regional fight against corruption to be discussed at “anti-corruption” conference

by Staff Writer

GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands, Jun 3, CMC – Heads of anti-corruption agencies and government integrity commissions from across the Caribbean part of the Commonwealth are meeting here  this week to discuss the fight against corruption.

The conference, being held for the first time here, comes   five years after the government passed but failed to implement its own legislation to deal with corruption in public office. 

The theme for the fifth annual conference of the Commonwealth Caribbean Association of Integrity Commissions and Anti-Corruption Bodies (CCAICACB) is “Transforming Words into Action: Revitalising the Fight Against Corruption”.

Panel discussions will cover corruption in sports, modernising legislative frameworks, the investigative battle against corruption and new technologies to combat corruption. 

“I believe we all have a lot to learn and share in both the development and implementation of meaningful and effective strategies for controlling corruption,” said the Chairperson for the Commissions for Standards in Public Life (CSPL) Rosie Myles. 

“Attendees comprise delegates from anti-corruption units from Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos, as well as from the host country, the Cayman Islands. Others include representatives from the Commonwealth Secretariat, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, National Integrity Action Jamaica and the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland,” said Myles.

The conference is sponsored by the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Cooperation, the Commonwealth Secretariat, CSPL and the Cayman Islands Government.

Posted in Crime, Featured, International, Legal, Local, News, Politics, Regional, Regional Sports, Sports0 Comments

Delegates at the opening of the 36th COHSOD in Georgetown, Guyana

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


Date: 7, June 2019
 
CARICOM SG
(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana)     CARICOM Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, has reiterated that culture played a significant role in the Region’s sustainable growth and development.

He was speaking at the opening of the Thirty-Sixth Meeting of the Council on Human and Social Development (COHSOD) on Thursday, 6 June 2019, at the CARICOM Headquarters in Georgetown, Guyana.

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

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

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

Speaking about the Caribbean Festival of Arts (CARIFESTA), which he referred to as the Community’s highly valued regional space that showcased arts and culture, Amb. LaRocque said the mega cultural event was being positioned as a catalyst for creative industry development within CARICOM.

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

Dr. the Hon. Nyan Gadsby-Dolly, Minister of Community Development, Culture and the Arts, Trinidad and Tobago, gave the feature address at the opening.

She was also of the view that the theme chosen for the hosting of the Meeting was very relevant, remarking that it spoke to how individuals, the Community, and nations of the Region understood and utilised culture for self-evaluation. According to her, a paradigm shift was needed to create a more self-sustaining cultural economic cycle.

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

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

As expected, Minister Gadsby-Dolly spoke about CARIFESTA XIV which is being hosted by Trinidad and Tobago in August. She informed the Meeting that the host country was introducing several niche festivals to the event that could become stand-alone events in the Region. She said that CARIFESTA was one of the Region’s best cultural assets and it was up to the Community to find innovative ways to reinvigorate and re-imagine the Festival each time.

Hon. Dr. George Norton, Minister of Social Cohesion, Guyana, was happy to welcome the Ministers and Officials to his country for the Meeting. He also posited the value of culture, saying it was time for it to be mainstreamed in the Regional agenda.

He noted that the Community’s culture was dynamic and that the cultural and creative industries would continue to evolve, even while being the key vehicles driving the development of the Region. He encouraged those present to continue to work together to achieve tangible outcomes and gave a commitment of his government’s continued support.
 https://www.flickr.com/photos/caricomorg/48014129661/in/album-72157708956104106/

Photo caption:  Delegates at the opening of the 36th COHSOD in Georgetown, Guyana on 6 June 2019. Pictured centre are (L-R): Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community, Dr. the Hon. Nyan Gadsby-Dolly, Minister of Community Development, Culture and the Arts of Trinidad and Tobago and Hon. Dr. George Norton Minister of Social Cohesion of Guyana.      

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

emerald united club WhatsApp Image 2019-06-08 at 8.55.40 AM

Montserrat Heritage Day – in the UK

Posted in Education, International, Local, News0 Comments

CDB supports regional trade facilitation initiative - CSME

CDB supports regional trade facilitation initiative – CSME

by Staff Writer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, CARICOM, International, Local, News, Regional, TOURISM0 Comments

EU launches fund to assist Caribbean countries

EU launches fund to assist Caribbean countries

by staff writer

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC – The European Union has launched a Euro 28 million (One Euro=US$1.29 cents) Regional Climate Resilience Building Facility that will provide financial resources for technical assistance, disaster insurance and resilient investment facilitation.

The facility is the largest grant-funded resilience building project in the Caribbean to date and will be implemented by the World Bank and the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF).

EU Ambassador, Daniela Tramacere

“What we want from this programme is to address real needs. For this, governments and partner entities will have to define clear priorities, without which a targeted implementation is not possible,” said EU Ambassador, Daniela Tramacere, at the weeklong Understanding Risk (UR) Caribbean Conference that is organized by the World Bank in partnership with the Barbados government, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and the EU.

The EU diplomat said the action should have as its ultimate objective, the genuine interest of Caribbean citizens translated in terms of resilience building at community and individual levels.

The technical assistance aims to strengthen the capacity of public institutions and civil society organisations which are capable of protecting citizens from disasters. The support to the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility will help countries cope and recover better from the effects of extreme weather events.

“The support to resilient investment will stimulate the private sector to better adapt businesses and jobs to the priority needs of countries and citizens,” she added.

The Regional Resilience Building Facility is one of the many resilience programmes being financed by the EU in the Caribbean. Additional support for countries to build societal resilience by encouraging the transition to green economies and progress towards a sustainable economic path is being provided by various other EU programmes.

The EU said it is also partnering with regional governments and institutions on climate adaptation and ecosystem resilience and on hydrological meteorological data gathering.

Earlier this week, Canada also announced the  launch a CAD$20 million (One Canada dollar=US$0.74 cents) Canada-Caribbean Resilience Facility initiative to help regional countries better prepare for and respond to natural disasters.

“This initiative is being undertaken with Canada’s Caribbean support as a direct response to the lessons learned following the devastating hurricanes in the Caribbean in 2017 that have impacted our neighbouring countries so severely,” says Marie Legault, High Commissioner of Canada to Barbados and the OECS.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Climate/Weather, Earthquake, Environment, Hurricane, International, Local, News, Regional, TOURISM0 Comments

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