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Police seek expats who absconded from Bermuda

Police seek expats who absconded from Bermuda

HAMILTON, Bermuda, Jul 4, CMC – The Police have launched an international manhunt for two former expatriate workers accused of fraud who they say have absconded from Bermuda.

Criminal charges involving US$1.8 million have been approved against the former chief financial officer of a Bermuda-based reinsurance company.

Yuval Abraham, who worked at Hiscox and whose whereabouts are unknown, faces eight counts of obtaining a money transfer by deception and nine counts of false accounting.

He is also charged with an attempt to obtain a money order by deception and one count of money laundering.

Acting Detective Superintendent Nicholas Pedro said an arrest warrant had been issued for Abraham, who has links to the United Kingdom, South Africa, Poland and Israel.

A second manhunt is under way for a Bermuda-based international life insurance company owner accused of investor fraud involving millions of dollars.

Ramesh Dusoruth, owner of St George’s Ltd, faces a charge of fraudulent inducement to deposit or invest and another of transferring criminal property.

He is also charged with three counts of transmission of false information to the Bermuda Monetary Authority.

Dusoruth was arrested and charged with the offences, but failed to appear in Magistrates’ Court on March 21 and an arrest warrant was issued.

Pedro said Dusoruth is known to have business interests in Cyprus, Malta and Holland and has homes in London and Antwerp in Belgium.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Crime, Features, International, Local, News, Police, Regional0 Comments

CDB moves closer to finalising youth policy and strategy

CDB moves closer to finalising youth policy and strategy

by STAFF WRITER

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Jul. 4, CMC- The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) says that is moving closer to finalising its first Youth Policy and Operational Strategy (YPOS), which will guide its youth-related investments in the Region.

Stakeholders from 17 of CDB’s Borrowing Member Countries (BMCs)  recently met here for a regional workshop to discuss recommendations coming from the consultations and youth study the Bank has been conducting to inform and shape the YPOS.

The workshop brought together a range of stakeholders in youth development, including permanent secretaries, directors of youth, youth leaders, and representatives from academia and development organisations.

Director of Projects at CDB, Daniel Best noted that the Bank has provided over US$1-billion for youth development programmes and projects over its nearly 50 years of existence, but has not, to date, adopted a dedicated policy and strategy to guide these investments.

“Despite encouraging results from projects which impact our youth, we acknowledge that there is room for even better youth development outcomes.”

He said the YPOS is an important initiative for CDB as positive youth development outcomes align with CDB’s strategic priorities and are essential to the Region’s sustainable development.

“This forum matters a lot to us at the Bank given our mandate to reduce poverty in our Borrowing Member Countries. This will only be possible if we create societies in which our youth can thrive. More than 60% of our region’s population is under the age of 30; this group represents a valuable resource for the sustainable development of our Region,” he said.

During the two-day workshop, participants discussed the preliminary findings from the study of the youth development context in BMCs and identified key priority areas that require further work in their countries. They also reviewed the first draft of the YPOS, making contributions to develop and refine it.

The Youth Policy and Operational Strategy is set to be completed in the last quarter of 2019.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, CARICOM, Features, Local, News, Regional, Youth0 Comments

torrential downpour in Haiti

Five killed in torrential downpour in Haiti

by STAFF WRITER

PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti, Jul. 4, CMC – Five were killed and three people are missing   following heavy rains that lashed the capital on Wednesday.

According to Haiti’s Directorate for Civil Protection (DPC), three people   were found dead in the city’s impoverished Cite Soleil neighborhood, while two others were killed elsewhere in Port-au-Prince.

In the town of Petionville, three people have been reported missing  and five were seriously injured when a wall collapsed under the weight of the downpour.

“There are unstable weather conditions prevailing in the Caribbean basin, and rain and thunderstorm activity could hit the country over the next two days,” the DPC said.

Heavy rain causes unusual damage in Haiti’s main cities due to a lack of proper drainage infrastructure.

According to government officials emergency teams remain mobilised and damage assessment is still underway. 

The DPC has called for continued vigilance in areas that remain at risk for flooding and landslides and has asked the population to observe safety instructions in case of showers and thunderstorms. 

Posted in CARICOM, Climate/Weather, Local, News, Regional0 Comments

logo-retina-544x180 Cayman Compass

Leaders unite against ‘modern colonialism’

By James Whittaker – June 27, 2019

From left, Anguilla Premier Victor F. Banks, Gibraltar Minister for Commerce Albert Isola, Bermuda Premier David Burt, Falkland Islands MLA Teslyn Barkman, Cayman Islands Premier Alden McLaughlin, Turks and Caicos Premier Sharlene Cartwright Robinson, Montserrat Premier Donaldson Romeo and British Virgin Islands Premier Andrew Fahie; who attended Wednesday’s Pre-Joint Ministerial Council meeting and Thursday’s International Trade Summit. – Photo: Taneos Ramsay

Britain’s Overseas Territories say they will “stand together” to defend their right to self-government amid increasing concerns over “constitutional overreach” from the UK.

Any attempts to enforce legislation from Westminster on issues ranging from same-sex marriage to ‘belongership’ and financial services regulation will be strongly resisted, according to leaders of several territories, following talks in Grand Cayman this week.

Despite the disparate concerns of the various territories, leaders from the Falklands to Bermuda were united in their opposition to the UK dictating policy from thousands of miles away.

A UK law seeking to impose public registers of beneficial ownership on Britain’s territories – seen as a threat to the financial services industry – is a key concern for several islands.

“Modern-day colonialism is what is being attempted by those persons is Westminster, and I am certain that all Overseas Territories will resist it vociferously,” Bermuda Premier David Burt said at a press conference following the summit at the Kimpton Seafire Hotel on Wednesday.

Flow

Several other leaders expressed similar concerns, and insisted the pressure from the UK on various issues is helping them to forge closer bonds as they seek to resist what they see as constitutional overreach from the mother country.

“I see a beacon of hope with our team here, because we all realise that divided we fall, united we stand,” said Andrew Fahie, premier of the British Virgin Islands.

A recent report from a Foreign Affairs Select Committee, which included a number of suggestions including recommendations that the UK government force its territories to adopt same-sex marriage legislation and open discussions on allowing resident UK citizens to vote and stand for election, is also stoking controversy.

Though the current British government says it has no plans to follow through on the report’s recommendations, the uncertainty and instability in UK politics amid a Conservative party leadership battle, division over Brexit and the possibility of a general election, is fuelling concern.

Burt said it was possible that the report’s recommendations could gain traction in a new government, and highlighted the possibility that some of its authors could be part of a future government.

“It is sad to see persons who don’t have a familiarity [with the various islands] reverting to a position we thought was long gone, where Westminster feels able to dictate to the Overseas Territories,” he added.

Albert Isola, Gibraltar’s minister for commerce, said the specifics of the issues at stake were largely irrelevant. He said it was “anti-democratic” of the UK to attempt to make laws for its territories on issues that were the responsibility of the elected governments.

“There is no way today we can accept modern colonialism through the back door by allowing these things to happen. On that, as has been demonstrated today, we are all 100 percent on the same page,” he said.

The report caused ripples as far away as the Falklands. Teslyn Barkman, a legislator from the islands, off the coast of Argentina, said it was omitted entirely from the report, but could be faced with the impact of its findings.

She said the recommendation that UK citizens be given the right to vote and run for office in the territories was the most controversial.

“You are talking about giving UK citizens the right to vote in a population of 3,000. You could very quickly have a population of UK citizens who don’t know the territory’s needs or priorities, or care about the long-term viability of the economy.”

Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson, of the Turks and Caicos, said she expected pressure from the UK, particularly over voting rights and same-sex marriage, would continue.

“It is a matter of constitutional overreach, and respecting territories rights to choose how they want to govern, how they want to grow their countries, who they want to run in their elections and certainly their culture and religious beliefs,” she said.

Montserrat Premier Donaldson Romeo said the UK clearly understood the democratic values at stake, because they were fighting for autonomy from the European Union on the basis of the same principles.

“We have just the same right as they have and we need to insist on our right to self determination, and our people need to support us in this regard.”

He urged the leaders around the table to remain united on issues, even when they only affected a handful of islands, and vowed to offer Montserrat’s support to others on issues, like financial services, which do not directly effect the island.

“We have a saying in Montserrat, ‘today for you, tomorrow for me’. I am counting on us to stand together,” he said.

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

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Leaders descend on Cayman Islands for summit

Jamaican PM and Lord Ahmad among visiting dignitaries

By James Whittaker – June 25, 2019

Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon

Leaders from across Britain’s overseas territories are meeting in Grand Cayman Wednesday to discuss joint concerns ahead of meetings with the UK government in London later this year.

Threats to the financial services industry and concerns over the constitutional relationship with the UK are among the key issues for some of the Caribbean territories, including the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and the British Virgin Islands.

But with a diverse range of islands falling under the British umbrella, including Gibraltar and the Falklands, a wide schedule of topics is expected to be under discussion during the talks at the Kimpton Seafire Resort.

The meetings will be immediately followed by a joint UK and Overseas Territories trade summit, also at the Kimpton, where emerging opportunities in the fintech sector and the ‘blue economy’ will be discussed.

British Overseas Territories Minister Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon will be in the Cayman Islands for a three-day visit to coincide with the summit and the arrival of British naval ship RFA Mounts Bay, which is on disaster relief duty in the region, and will perform a training exercise on Seven Mile Beach on Friday.

Flow

Lord Ahmad will host a meeting with the overseas territories leaders on the implications of Brexit later on Friday.

Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness is also scheduled to attend some of the week’s events and hold bilateral talks with Lord Ahmad.

Cayman Islands Premier Alden McLaughlin, who will chair the meeting of overseas territories leaders, said in a statement, “Each Overseas Territory is different, but these meetings afford us an opportunity to discuss the various ways in which we can work together. Through this meeting we will agree on an agenda and strengthen our collective position for the full JMC meeting later this year in London.”

Topics on the agenda include a joint Caribbean overseas territories-wide oil spill clean-up strategy, oceans policy, the emerging fintech industry and the threats and challenges of Britain’s impending exit from the European Union.

Roy Tatum, head of the Office of the Premier, said, “We all see the opportunities that Brexit and the UK’s Global Britain initiative can bring if we put ourselves in the best possible position to take advantage of them. However, there are some territories, such as Falklands, Tristan de Cunha and Gibraltar, who have direct trade relationships with various EU countries and who have concerns about the impact on their economies post Brexit.”

He said there were also implications for some project funding arrangements that would need to be addressed.

The controversial Foreign Affairs Committee report, which recommended an order in council on same-sex marriage and called for British citizens to be given the right to vote and run for office in overseas territories, is also on the agenda.

The UK government has since dismissed the bulk of the report’s findings, indicating the policies outlined were devolved matters for the territories to deal with themselves. Nonetheless, the report remains a concern for many territories and will dominate two discussion sessions on Wednesday.

The trade summit begins Thursday and coincides with the weekend celebrations for the 60th anniversary of Cayman’s first written constitution.

Eric Bush, the chief officer in Cayman’s new trade Ministry of International Trade, Investment, Aviation and Maritime Affairs, said the summit was an important first step towards identifying opportunities for economic diversification.

He said there were opportunities for the territories to access the UK’s network of global trade links to grow new industries, such as fintech, healthcare and the blue economy.

Dr. Devi Shetty, founder of Health City Cayman Islands, has been invited to talk about medical tourism, but the summit will be mostly confined to government leaders and officials.

Though there are areas of competition between some of the territories, particularly over fintech, Bush said the various countries had been willing to share expertise and experience of ‘best practice’ in these emerging industries.

Lord Ahmad’s three-day visit will include meetings with Cabinet and the Leader of the Opposition Arden McLean, as well as a visit to Cayman Brac.

Royal Fleet Auxiliary Ship Mounts Bay will also be in port and Lord Ahmad will be on Seven Mile Beach to witness an exercise to land disaster relief equipment from the ship.

Governor Martyn Roper welcomed the visit.

He said, “The Trade Summit will explore areas where the UK and the Overseas Territories can work more closely together to develop export and inward investment opportunities. Senior representatives from the department of International Trade and its business delivery partners in the USA and China will be present.

“It is also great that Lord Ahmad will be here to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the Constitution and discuss cooperation on disaster management.”

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Carrs Bay port

Is Mr Romeo the Premier “who asked for more”?

Part 6/2019 (Contribution)

Does Montserrat have a right to ask for “more”? (If not, why is Article 73 having an impact?)

BRADES, Montserrat, June 3, 2019 –  In Charles Dickens’ famous novel Oliver Twist, after three months of thin gruel in the Parish workhouse, nine-year-old Oliver Twist dared to ask for more:

Please, sir, I want some more”

“ . . . he was desperate with hunger, and reckless with misery. He rose from the table; and advancing to the master, basin and spoon in hand, said: somewhat alarmed at his own temerity:

‘Please, sir, I want some more.’

The master was a fat, healthy man; but he turned very pale. He gazed in stupefied astonishment on the small rebel for some seconds, and then clung for support to the copper. The assistants were paralysed with wonder; the boys with fear.

‘What!’ said the master at length, in a faint voice.

‘Please, sir,’ replied Oliver, ‘I want some more.’

The master aimed a blow at Oliver’s head with the ladle; pinioned him in his arm; and shrieked aloud for the beadle.”[1]

Soon, the matter was taken to the Board (but of course poor Oliver was not permitted to be there, to answer the charge and speak up for himself):

“The board were sitting in solemn conclave, when Mr. Bumble rushed into the room in great excitement, and addressing the gentleman in the high chair, said,

‘Mr. Limbkins, I beg your pardon, sir! Oliver Twist has asked for more!’

There was a general start. Horror was depicted on every countenance . . .”

Thus did Charles Dickens decisively skewer the half-hearted provision for relief of the poor in his day and the way in which those who cared for the needy too often fattened themselves at their expense. And while we have moved on beyond such low meanness today, sometimes we still need a reminder.

That is what, it seems, Premier Romeo has done.

For years, he pointed to the UN Charter, Article 73:  the UK is legally bound to “ensure . . . advancement” and again to “promote constructive measures of development.” He highlighted the 2012 FCO White Paper on Overseas Territories: “reasonable assistance needs of the Territories are a first call on the UK’s international development budget.” He has been consistently dismissed, publicly mocked, even humiliated.

However, it seems the 2018 UN General Assembly has taken a very different view than many local pundits and politicians. For, as Premier Romeo quoted in his budget reply on May 28th, on December 7, 2018 over 180 UN member states (out of 193) passed a Resolution on Montserrat.[2] Let us now quote it and highlight key points:

Noting the statement made by the Premier of Montserrat at the 2018 Pacific regional seminar, in which he expressed the view that the previous request made for the removal of Montserrat from the agenda of the Special Committee should be reversed,

Noting also the information provided by the Premier that Montserrat could not achieve its development goals if its economic dependency continued, compounded by ongoing financial challenges, and that securing funding for rebuilding key infrastructure lost and helping evacuees from the 1995 volcanic crisis required an intervention from the Special Committee as a neutral partner,

Noting further the request made by the Premier for a visiting mission of the Special Committee to the Territory, which could also include meetings with evacuees in Antigua and Barbuda, the United Kingdom and the United States of America . . . .

Recalling the importance of improving the infrastructure and accessibility of Montserrat, as conveyed by the Premier of Montserrat to the Chair of the Special Committee in their meeting on 11 May 2015 . . . .

1. Reaffirms the inalienable right of the people of Montserrat to self-determination, in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations and with General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) . . . .

8. Calls upon the administering Power, the specialized agencies and other  organizations of the United Nations system, as well as regional and other organizations, to continue to provide assistance to the Territory in alleviating the consequences of the volcanic eruption . . . .

10. Calls upon the administering Power to participate in and cooperate fully with the work of the Special Committee in order to implement the provisions of Article 73 e of the Charter and the Declaration and in order to advise the Committee on the implementation of the provisions under Article 73 b of the Charter on efforts to promote self-government in Montserrat, and encourages the administering Power to facilitate visiting and special missions to the Territory;

11. Stresses the importance of the invitation extended by the territorial Government for a visiting mission by the Special Committee, calls upon the administering Power to facilitate such a mission, and requests the Chair of the Special Committee to take all the steps necessary to that end;

12. Reaffirms the responsibility of the administering Power under the Charter to promote the economic and social development and to preserve the cultural identity of the Territory, and requests the administering Power to take steps to enlist and make effective use of all possible assistance, on both a bilateral and a multilateral basis, in the strengthening of the economy of the Territory . . .

In short, the overwhelming verdict of the world community is in, and Premier Romeo stands decisively vindicated.

An Article 73 visit is expected, the UK must facilitate our self-determination and self-government. And, the UK has been specifically, firmly reminded of its  “responsibility . . . under the Charter to promote the economic and social development and to preserve the cultural identity of the Territory [of Montserrat].”

That’s the obvious context for the recent Launch of the Breakwater and Berth project and for the Fibre Optic Cable project, Airport improvements, hospital, school upgrading and more, all of which are in the 2019/20 budget. It is the base for the 30 million CIPREG capital development programme. However – while key breakthrough projects have actually begun to roll out – we still hear voices demanding to know where the £500 millions of DfID-funded aid over the past twenty-four years have gone (other than straight into Consultants’ pockets). 

In all fairness, while results are mixed and it has taken far too long for us to reach a stage where economy-transforming projects are beginning to roll out, the long-suffering UK taxpayer is due more thanks than that. If the 60% of our recurrent budget that comes from the UK taxpayer were to be withdrawn, Montserrat would instantly collapse. Even more of our capital budget has come from the UK taxpayer. So the truth is, we can see where a lot of that aid has gone: dividing £500 millions by 24 gives £20.8 million per year as an average support figure – one  that is fairly close to our annual aid package. So, our problem has not been that we have received “nothing,” but instead that “more” – actually, “enough” – was and is needed to help us get back up on our own feet after the devastation caused by the volcano. 

Halcrow’s Carrs Bay port drawings at 60% and 90%

For example, in his recent Budget Reply, Premier Romeo publicly showed that in February 2014, the UK Government questioned whether the  the Carrs Bay port option was viable, and therefore offered to fund a less costly Little Bay option.  In short, given former Premier Meade’s rejection of the Little Bay option and his difficulties in getting private investors, the Carr’s Bay Port Project was at deadlock by the date of Hon Allen Duncan’s letter to Premier Meade: Feb 14, 2014.

The government changed in September 2014 and we took a £14.4 million slice we got from UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s £300 million UKCIF program [3] and topped it up with £7.1 millions in EU aid funds, to provide much the same breakwater and berth as we could have had four or five years ago. (By the way, can anyone tell us when the Halcrow 100% design for the Carrs Bay port option was presented to the public, and what it would have cost. Where are the drawings? The 60% or 90% stages[4] are not good enough.)

PPerhaps, we can now come together and decide that from now on, we will make good use of our UN Charter, Article 73 rights. END


[1]Oliver Twist, Ch. 2.

[2] UNGA A/RES/73/114  https://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/73/114

[3] See CDB: https://www.caribank.org/our-work/programmes/united-kingdom-caribbean-infrastructure-partnership-fund-ukcif

[4] See TMR, https://www.themontserratreporter.com/12472/

Posted in Columns, De Ole Dawg, International, Local, News, Opinions, Politics, Regional0 Comments

"A United CARICOM Diaspora?"

“A United CARICOM Diaspora?”

by Elizabeth Morgan*

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Jun 19, CMC -World Bank: The Caribbean Diaspora is a sizeable, well-educated and affluent demographic … supported by right incentives and policies, diaspora members could play an even larger role in contributing to the region’s development.

As Jamaica’s 8th Biennial Diaspora Conference is being held in Kingston this week under the theme “Building Pathways to Sustainable Development”, I thought that I would look at the potential of a united Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Diaspora i.e. persons who have migrated from the CARICOM Member States.

Migration from the British West Indies (BWI) seeking work in overseas countries and territories commenced in the 1860s and continued. Today, the main concentration of migrants from CARICOM Member States is in the United Kingdom (UK), the United States of America (USA) and Canada.

A rough estimate has the total combined CARICOM Diaspora in the UK, USA and Canada numbering about 3.4 million; 600, 000 in the UK, two million in the USA, and 800,000 in Canada. The majority are from Jamaica, Haiti, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago.

Besides Jamaica, other CARICOM Member States engaging with their diaspora in North America and Europe are Haiti, Guyana, Barbados, Grenada, St. Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago. An important area for engagement is trade and investment. Jamaica’s National Foreign Trade Policy and Draft Diaspora Policy identify this as an important area for cooperation.

Diaspora demand stimulated exports of non-traditional products from the region into the UK, USA and Canada. These non-traditional products include fruits, vegetables, ground provisions, sauces, condiments and baked goods. By opening stores, restaurants and bakeries, members of the diaspora introduced the wider population to the culture, products and cuisine of the Caribbean. Non-traditional exports have been growing. The diaspora is still seen as a niche market for the region.

The World Bank, Commonwealth and others see the potential of the CARICOM diaspora as a united force for advocacy and promoting regional growth and development, but how coordinated is this diaspora in the UK, USA and Canada?

The CARICOM Diaspora in the UK does not appear to have a formal structure but is engaged through the CARICOM Caucus of High Commissioners and Ambassadors in London. They collaborated successfully from 2009-2015 to change the Air Passenger Duty policy and more recently on the Windrush issue. A British-Caribbean Chamber of Commerce does exist.

I noted that in 2017 the Ambassador of Guyana to the USA, Dr. Riyad Insannally, called for a more structured engagement between the CARICOM Caucus of Ambassadors in Washington DC and the diaspora to advance the region’s causes.

As we have seen, the largest concentration of CARICOM migrants is in the USA. I am aware of the activities of the Institute of Caribbean Studies and the Caribbean-American Political Action Committee. June is designated Caribbean American Heritage Month.

There is a Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce and Industry which aims to promote and sustain trade and investment between the US and the Caribbean. It does not appear, however, that the CARICOM Diaspora is as well coordinated as it could be especially in New York, New Jersey and Florida which have the highest concentration of CARICOM migrants. In these states, contact points would be the Consulates in New York and Miami.

In Canada, the CARICOM population is concentrated in the province of Ontario. In that province, I note that the Caribbean Women’s Society, established in 2015, launched the Caribbean-Canadian Chamber of Commerce and Community.

There was a prior attempt to establish a Caribbean/Canadian Business Council. The Caribbean Women’s Society has taken the imitative to have October declared Caribbean Heritage Month in Ontario.

It is the caucus of CARICOM Consuls in Toronto which is the contact point for the diaspora in the Greater Toronto area. There is the CARICOM Caucus of High Commissioners and Ambassadors in Ottawa which is also engaged with the diaspora in Ontario and other parts of Canada.

It is evident that some effort is being made to organize the CARICOM diaspora to improve their status in their countries of residence as well as to promote the region’s interests. It is clear that much more would need to be done to coordinate and manage a CARICOM diaspora structure in the UK, USA and Canada. Currently, the priority of CARICOM Member States is their national diaspora engagement. The potential is there for diaspora engagement on a regional level but this is clearly a work in progress which needs further encouragement from within the region, the private sector and regional bodies.

The newly established Caribbean Chamber of Commerce (CARICHAM) could be looking at partnering with Caribbean Chambers in the UK, USA and Canada.

As been often said, to sustain growth within the region and to implement the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), partnering to increase trade and investment flows is essential.

*Elizabeth Morgan, who writes for CMC, is a specialist in international trade policy and international politics.

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

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Saharan Dust returns across the Eastern Caribbean with a vengence

Adapted :  Thursday, June 20, 2019,

Nearly all islands across the Lesser Antilles are experiencing air quality levels that are unhealthy for sensitive groups, with the most reduced air quality occurring across Barbados and Martinique as of 11:00 AM. Dense Saharan Dust continues to traverse the Atlantic and Caribbean as all islands across the Greater Antilles, stretching as far as Florida into the United States, are experiencing moderate air quality. Across Trinidad and Tobago, air quality is beginning to deteriorate rapidly, but generally still at good to moderate levels. Persons with respiratory ailments, heart disease, the elderly and children need to take the necessary precautions!

Presently, minimal to mild concentrations of Saharan Dust are present across Trinidad and Tobago, with air quality at good levels across Western and Central Trinidad. Across Eastern Trinidad and Tobago however, a combination of model data and ground stations are indicating air quality is beginning to be quickly degraded, presently at moderate levels.

Air quality index across Trinidad and Tobago as of 11:00 AM Thursday 20th June 2019 as dense Saharan Dust forecast to continue moving across the region.
Air quality index across Trinidad and Tobago as of 11:00 AM Thursday 20th June 2019 as dense Saharan Dust forecast to continue moving across the region.

According to the EMA, the national standard for Particulate Matter (PM) of diameter ≤2.5 µm (PM2.5) is 65 µg/m3 and PM of diameter ≤10 µm (PM10) is 75 µg/m3. This has not been exceeded since the March 2019 Saharan Dust Outbreak. Based on present model guidance, this event is expected to become close or just over the PM2.5 threshold at 62-66 µg/m3 at its peak early Friday morning across Trinidad and Tobago.

In addition, with breezy conditions, and gusts to 60 KM/H, a significant reduction in visibility is forecast out at sea. Marine interests are advised to exercise extreme caution as seas still remain moderate, with waves between 2.0 to 2.5 meters in open waters.

All Lesser Antilles Islands are experiencing air quality levels at unhealthy for sensitive groups, with the exception of Trinidad and Tobago. Countries along the Northern coast of Southern America are experiencing good air quality, while all Greater Antilles islands, stretching as far west as the United States, are experiencing moderate air quality.

Air Quality across the Eastern Caribbean and the Greater Antilles
Air Quality across the Eastern Caribbean and the Greater Antilles

At moderate air quality levels, unusually sensitive groups should consider reducing prolonged or heavy exertion.

The concentration of the dust that follows the wave depends on the strength of the wave as it moves off the West African Coast. This is because of stronger thunderstorms across Central Africa. As strong winds move downward and outward from these thunderstorms, the wind kicks up dust as it moves across parts of the Saharan Desert and transports it into the upper atmosphere. This “plume” of dust follows the axis of the wave as it progresses westward into the Atlantic.

 5-Day Air Quality Index, Saharan Dust Forecast For Trinidad and Tobago. A significant surge of Saharan Dust is forecast to move across Trinidad and Tobago over the next 24-48 hours, reducing air quality to unhealthy for sensitive groups for the 3rd time in 2019. Air quality is forecast to return to good levels by late Saturday into Sunday as Tropical Wave 10 moves across the area.
5-Day Air Quality Index, Saharan Dust Forecast For Trinidad and Tobago. A significant surge of Saharan Dust is forecast to move across Trinidad and Tobago over the next 24-48 hours, reducing air quality to unhealthy for sensitive groups for the 3rd time in 2019. Air quality is forecast to return to good levels by late Saturday into Sunday as Tropical Wave 10 moves across the area.

Dust models continue to show, following the passage of tropical waves, moderate concentrations of Saharan Dust moving across Trinidad and Tobago over the next several weeks. Based on the latest model guidance, following this significant surge over the next 24-36 hours, another moderate surge is forecast by June 25 and another by June 30.

 00Z June 20th 2019 NASA GEOS-5 Dust Model showing several surges of Saharan Dust moving across Trinidad, Tobago and the Eastern Caribbean over the next 10 days. Credit: Weatherbell
00Z June 20th 2019 NASA GEOS-5 Dust Model showing several surges of Saharan Dust moving across Trinidad, Tobago and the Eastern Caribbean over the next 10 days. Credit: Weatherbell

Sensitive groups such as persons with respiratory ailments, children, the elderly and cardiopulmonary disease should take the necessary precautions on days where dust concentrations degrade air quality to moderate to unhealthy for sensitive groups.

Saharan Dust Precautions
Saharan Dust Precautions

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, CARICOM, Climate/Weather, Education, Environment, Featured, International, Local, News, Regional, Science/Technology, TOURISM0 Comments

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

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