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PM Harris and Douglas - Motion

Government says economy grew by more than two per cent in 2017

by staff writer

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, Dec 13, CMC – The St. Kitts-Nevis government says the economy grew by 2.1 per cent last year as the twin island Federation continues to demonstrate resilience amidst prevailing downside risks in the international and regional economic environment.

Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris, presenting the EC$749.3 million (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents) to Parliament on Wednesday, said that gross domestic product (GDP) had increased eased by 2.1 per cent  which is on par with the growth rate of 2.3 per cent recorded by the advanced economies.


Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris

He said this outturn also surpassed the economic output of the member states of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) of 1.3 per cent for the same period.

Harris said that the growth in the local economy was underpinned by expansions of 11.4 per cent in the agriculture sector; six per cent in the transport, storage and communication sector and 4.7 per cent in the construction Sector.

“The growth trend in the economy continued in 2018 resulting in a positive outturn during the first half of the year. I am advised that the growth we are currently witnessing is attributed mainly to activities in the tourism Sector which grew by 8.5 per cent,” said Harris, who is also the Finance Minister.

He told legislators that the manufacturing sector also rebounded during the first six months of 2018 recording an expansion in economic activity of 3.7 per cent after declining by 10 per cent during the same period in 2017.

He said the upturn in the sector had been influenced by a five per cent increase in the production of electronic components and positive growth within the agricultural, real estate, renting and business activity sectors.

Harris said that the average rate of inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) deflated by 0.6 per cent in the first half of 2018 in line with the deceleration in prices in the non-food and seven service indices of 1.6 and 1.2 per cent respectively.

“Price levels in the food and beverages Index however, increased by 2.6 per cent over the period under review as a result of the steady increase in international food prices. My administration will continue to monitor this situation and work to improve food security in the Federation so that we could limit the negative impacts of these international trends.”

Harris told the National Assembly that there had been a transformation of the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CBI) resulting in more professional management systems as well as increased cooperation with partners.

Under the CBI, St. Kitts-Nevis provides citizenship to foreign investors who make a significant contribution to the socio-economic development of the twin island Federation.

Harris said that every challenge in the industry was confronted “responsibly with a view to maintain the integrity of the programme and consolidate the socio-economic development of our country.

“Mr Speaker, wherever evidence has been provided regarding unacceptable behaviour we have acted appropriately. When persons sought to sell below programme statutory thresholds, we have taken quick action to dissuade and to have them cease and desist. When persons maliciously generated letters purporting to come from our Citizenship by Investment Unit bearing false information, we have acted, including to seek the support of the relevant law enforcement authorities.

“We welcome those service providers who were implicated in any way in these spurious letters to come forward, so advise the Unit and be prepared to bring full, definitive and factual evidence of such malpractice and fraud so that such matters can be fully addressed and corrective action taken,” he said, noting that offers of assistance have come from at least two international organisations.

Harris said that his administration would continue to act in the best interest of the country as it relates to the CBI, which he said had been the catalyst for the government improved economic success.

“As we move forward, we will work even more closely with developers, service providers and agents to ensure the highest standards of integrity pervade all areas. The programme is too important to allow the mischief and despicable agenda of anyone to destroy the good things which the programme has brought or discourage the participation of reputable entities.”

He said in 2019, a further set of policies and legislative developments will further bolster the CBI programme.

“There have been recent efforts to scandalize the programme by aggrieved parties with personal vendettas. Truth be told, it is the incredible success of our CBI programme that has provided the fiscal space for us to pay a double salary and introduce our poverty alleviation programme. These good developments are what the bitter-elements of the Opposition are hoping to undermine in their unfounded and malicious attacks on the CBI programme,” Harris told legislators, adding “.we acknowledge there is more work to be done.

“As a responsible member of the international community we are working with our international partners to achieve efficacious outcomes.”

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A boat-filled harbour photographed from the air, west of St George

Complacency kills: Caribbean gears up for tsunamis

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-46356998

BBC News

By Philippa Fogarty
Kingston, Jamaica

8 December 2018

A boat-filled harbour photographed from the air, west of St George's, Grenada, in February 2018
Image caption – Island nations like Grenada hope to be tsunami-ready by 2020

The last time a major tsunami hit the Caribbean region was in 1946, after an 8.1-magnitude earthquake struck the Dominican Republic on the island of Hispaniola.

At Playa Rincón, the sea rushed 700m (2,300ft) inland, according to a man who clung to the top of an almond tree to survive. Waves were 5m high in places and 1,600 people died across the north-east coast. Small tsunami waves were also recorded in Puerto Rico, Bermuda and even New Jersey.

Since then, a handful of tsunamis have occurred – in Panama and Costa Rica in 1991 after an earthquake, and in Montserrat in 1997 after a landslide of volcanic debris. After the devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010, sub-sea landslides generated waves that killed three people.

Over the same period, populations have more than doubled and tourist numbers on Caribbean beaches have soared, passing 30 million in 2017. In most places, infrastructure is concentrated in coastal areas.

Experts warn that the region runs the risk of complacency over the tsunami threat.

“The potential for tsunamis is significant and has to be taken seriously,” says Christa von Hillebrandt-Andrade, who oversees the Puerto Rico-based Caribbean Tsunami Warning Program under the US National Weather Service.

“Within the Caribbean and bordering the Caribbean, there are major fault structures and also volcanoes that could generate a tsunami at any time.”

Multiple risks

Key areas are along the north-eastern and eastern boundaries of the Caribbean where the North American and South American plates interact with the Caribbean plate.

Tsunamis in the Caribbean

Presentational grey line

These boundaries include areas of subduction (where one plate is forced under another, as in the Indian Ocean in 2004) and strike-slip motion (where plates are side by side, like the San Andreas fault).

One area to watch is the subduction zone east of the Lesser Antilles, says Dr Robert Muir-Wood, chief research officer at RMS catastrophe risk modelling consultancy and the author of a 2015 report on mega-tsunamis. “We strongly suspect this area is potentially prone to these really large earthquakes, which would be associated with a major regional tsunami.”

Haitian presidential guards lower the Haitian flag on April 19, 2011 in front of the destroyed presidential palace in Port-au-Prince
Image captionHaiti has struggled to recover from the damage caused by a devastating earthquake in 2010

Another series of faults lie north of Hispaniola, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, and includes the 8,400m-deep Puerto Rico Trench. While this area is not a straightforward subduction zone and there has not been a really significant earthquake along this boundary, there is evidence of massive submarine landslides into the trench and historical reports of local tsunamis, says Dr Muir-Wood.

Big earthquakes have also occurred off the Caribbean coast of Central America and Venezuela.

“The Caribbean is clearly a place where both [regional and local] types of tsunamis can be anticipated, and the key is that simply because an event hasn’t happened in the last 300 years of history doesn’t mean it can’t happen,” says Dr Muir-Wood.

Warning time

Before 2004, Ms von Hillebrandt-Andrade says tsunami warning systems in the Caribbean were “basically non-existent”. But the Indian Ocean disaster sparked action and a regional body on tsunami risk was established under Unesco in 2005.

Significant work has been done to increase the data flow to the Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre (PTWC), which provides alerts to the region.

“Every single country has opened up its seismic data and that has been absolutely critical,” says Ms von Hillebrandt-Andrade.

Today there are 80 sea-level stations and 125 seismic stations sending information, up from five and 10 respectively in 2004. “That has permitted us to reduce our lead time – the time it takes to issue the initial [tsunami warning] product – from 10-15 minutes to under 5 minutes.”

Once PTWC has issued an advisory, responsibility for local alerts devolves to national governments. At this level, Ms von Hillebrandt-Andrade says, capabilities “vary greatly throughout the region”.

A car drives on a damaged road in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Humacao, Puerto Rico, on October 2, 2017
Image captionHurricane Maria resulted in thousands of deaths on Puerto Rico after it hit in 2017

Some places, like Puerto Rico, have well-established protocols. Other places are less practised.

In January, when PTWC issued its first international tsunami threat message to the region after a 7.6 earthquake off Honduras, governments in the Cayman Islands and Jamaica, for example, faced questions over their response.

Some governments “had a little bit more difficulty deciding what product they should issue, if they should issue a product, if there really was a real threat”, says Ms von Hillebrandt-Andrade. “Strengths and weaknesses were identified.”

Funding vital

One early aim of the regional body was to establish a centre like PTWC in the Caribbean, but that has been sidelined in favour of improving education. Local tsunamis can potentially reach shore before an alert, and lives can be saved if residents know to seek high ground.

Central to this educational push is the annual tsunami exercise, Caribe Wave, and the Tsunami Ready programme, now adopted by Unesco, which sets out guidelines for communities to meet. So far Puerto Rico, Anguilla, St Kitts & Nevis and the Virgin Islands are certified as Tsunami Ready, while pilot projects have taken place in Haiti and Grenada.

Hurricane Emily is shown in this computer generated NOAA satellite illustration made available July 14, 2005 over the south-eastern Caribbean Sea
Image captionHurricane Emily hit Grenada in 2005

In Grenada the area chosen was St Patrick’s Parish, 8km (5 miles) south of rumbling submarine volcano Kick ‘Em Jenny. Educational billboards, evacuation maps and signs have been posted and an awareness programme carried out.

“We had to get down on the ground and interact with all of the community groups, we worked with the churches, the schools, the fisherfolk, the farmers,” says Senator Winston Garraway, minister of state with oversight of disaster management and information. “From the senior people to the children, they have the information now and they know exactly what has to be done.”

The government wants the whole island to be Tsunami Ready by 2020, starting with a southern parish potentially vulnerable to a tsunami generated off Venezuela. Mr Garraway also wants to establish a nationwide siren system to complement alerts disseminated via radio and TV.

Aerial views of the slopes of the Soufriere Hills showing the destruction and complete loss of the capital of Monserrat, Plymouth and St Patrick's village
Image captionA tsunami hit Monserrat in 1997 after there was a landslide of volcanic debris

But resourcing is a major problem for small island nations like Grenada, which must also address twin challenges of hurricanes and the impact of climate change. “Most of what we have to do, we do not have the ready resources,” says Mr Garraway. “Grant funding is extremely important for us at this time.”

Regionally, work remains to be done. Scientists still do not have the data needed to accurately size very large earthquakes and their type of movement quickly. Tsunami protocols for cruise ships are needed. Better understanding of bathymetry (water depth and shore height) would enable better scenario modelling, but some nations do not have that information.

“Every single country and territory in the region has room for improvement,” says Ms von Hillebrandt-Andrade.

“Tsunamis don’t occur that frequently, so it’s very easy to become desensitised. But the reality is that a tsunami could kill many more people than any hurricane could.”

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CXC Note master - training teachers

OECS / CXC – NotesMaster Montserrat Program Launched

OECS / CXC Media Release

The OECS-CXC-NotesMaster MOE(Ministry of Education) Montserrat program was launched 26-27 November. 

The program has goals of introducing primary level teachers to new e-Learning technologies and increasing there pository of high quality learning resources available to stakeholders across the OECS, freely accessible anytime and anywhere, across all platforms. 

The output from this programme will be accessible via the OECS Learning Hub, where all member states will have free access.

The workshop was spearheaded by Dr. Gregory Julius, Director of Education and Mrs. Zelma White, Senior Education Officer for primary schools from the Ministry of Education Montserrat. Mrs. Hyacinth Bramble, Education Planner, was very instrumental in the successful execution of each day’s proceedings. 

To ensure continuity, MOE Montserrat, will be implementing an Open Educational Resource (OER) development program, that will enable a deeper integration of ICT in the schools. The outcome of this program will form add to the regional repository on the forthcoming OECS Learning Hub. 

A range of new features will be available on the 2019 NotesMaster platform to facilitate a fully virtual classroom with real time video interaction between teacher and student.

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PANCAP Director, Derek Springer

Message from the Director of PANCAP, Mr. Dereck Springer

on the occasion of World AIDS Day 2018

PANCAP Director, Derek Springer

(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana)     This year’s World AIDS Day theme “Know your status” encourages us to be tested to know whether we are HIV negative or positive. This theme is very relevant as the world has committed to Fast Track actions towards achieving the 90-90-90 treatment targets by the year 2020. The UNAIDS 2018 Global AIDS Monitoring (GAM) report informs us that there are an estimated 310,000 adults and children living with HIV in the Caribbean, of which nearly 55,000 are unaware that they have HIV. 
 
While many people experience anxieties when contemplating being tested, it is good to know that the majority of these will test HIV negative. What is important is those who know that they are HIV negative have an incentive to keep themselves free from HIV by adopting changes to their lives that can reduce their risk and vulnerability to HIV. The few who test positive for HIV can have immediate access to life-saving antiretroviral drugs that would enable them to enjoy a good quality life and live much longer.
 
The 2018 UNAIDS GAM report also helps us to understand that we still need to place 74,400 persons who are living with HIV on treatment and 103,000 are yet to achieve viral suppression, that is, having very low levels of virus in the body, even though the virus is still present.
 
Science and evidence show that AIDS can be defeated once we get 90 percent of people to know their HIV status, of those who are HIV positive 90 percent receive anti-retroviral drugs and are retained in care, and 90 percent of those on treatment achieve viral suppression. Once this happens, we are well on the way to achieving the end of AIDS, by 2030.
 
So what is stopping us from achieving these 90-90-90 targets? The biggest challenges we face are persistent judgment and unfair treatment of people living with HIV and persons belonging to key population groups such as gay men and other men who have sex with men, transgender persons, sex workers, persons who use drugs, migrants and other mobile populations, and persons with disabilities. We judge persons who are different from us and we often times treat them differently. We do so because we do not take the time to understand.  This year’s theme must, therefore, serve as a catalyst for increased strategic advocacy using the PANCAP Regional Advocacy Strategy 2017 and national advocacy plans for increasing political will to remove the policies and legislative barriers that obstruct people from coming forward to know their HIV status. The fear is real as people are concerned that they will be treated differently if they test positive.
 
We must bring into the spotlight the critical need for laboratory improvements and increased coverage in our region. We need more laboratory facilities including those led by the communities themselves to know our status. We need laboratories to confirm community-led HIV screening tests.  We need laboratories and point-of-care diagnostic systems to monitor our viral loads and health care providers who are trained to provide clinical management for HIV-related illnesses.
 
We cannot get people tested if we do not have test kits, the right diagnostic equipment, and the right human resources. When we talk about placing 90 percent of people who are HIV positive on treatment and retaining them on treatment we must also ensure that we do not have stock-outs of key drugs. How can we be taken seriously when we encourage people to be tested and then fail to provide uninterrupted treatment? How can we fail to respond to people living with HIV when sometimes drugs are not available and people become anxious because their health care provider had stressed the importance of adherence to treatment and the impact of non-adherence on their health, including the potential for drug resistance?
 
If we are serious about getting people to know their status, we must move beyond the rhetoric to decisive actions to demonstrate that we understand the full implication of what it means to move someone who tests HIV positive to sustained viral suppression. We must guarantee good quality laboratory testing and laboratory services, uninterrupted treatment and monitoring within our health care system. And we must begin to tackle the reform of the justice system to enable persons who suffer discrimination to obtain redress in a timely manner. This calls for the engagement and involvement of our ministries of justice and attorneys general among others.
 
I call upon our governments and all who can make this happen to take the necessary actions to create an enabling environment in which people who want to know their status can come forward with the knowledge that they will not be treated differently, and that if they test positive they will be provided with the treatment, care and support they need to enjoy good quality lives and achieve viral suppression. Only then can we get them to know their status and begin the journey towards ending AIDS as a public health threat in the Caribbean. 
 
 
 

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Geoff Zochodne

Scotiabank to exit nine countries in Caribbean shake-up

Financial Post

This issue has caused grave concern particularly among the OECS states as will be seen in future publications

Meanwhile, operations in Mexico, Peru, Chile, and Colombia drive international earnings up 17%

Scotiabank, which has operated in the Caribbean since 1889, says it plans to refocus its business in the
region by selling a number of insurance and banking operations
.
Bloomberg

The Bank of Nova Scotia said Tuesday that it has struck a deal to sell banking businesses in nine of the smaller countries in the Caribbean, such as Antigua and Dominica, as the lender continues to narrow down the number of international markets in which it operates.

The move comes as Scotiabank, which has said larger markets in Latin America are still very much part of its plans, reported that adjusted profit from its international banking unit grew at a greater rate than that of its Canadian business over the past year.

“Exiting these non-core operations is consistent with a strategy that began five years ago to sharpen our focus, increase scale in core geographies and businesses, improve earnings quality and reduce risk to the bank,” said Scotiabank president and CEO Brian Porter during a conference call Tuesday morning, adding that the bank has now either exited or announced its intentions to exit more than 20 countries or businesses over that same period.

Scotiabank plans to sell the Caribbean businesses to Trinidad and Tobago-based Republic Financial Holdings Ltd., subject to regulatory approvals and closing conditions. Republic Financial said in a release that the purchase price is US$123 million.

Additionally, Scotiabank announced Tuesday that its subsidiaries in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago have agreed to sell their insurance operations to Barbados-based Sagicor Financial Corporation Ltd., which would also underwrite insurance products for Scotia’s banking subsidiaries through a 20-year distribution agreement.

That deal would be subject to approvals and conditions, but it is also contingent on Sagicor being acquired by a Toronto-based special purpose acquisition corporation.

Scotiabank said these transactions would not be material, but that they would increase its common equity tier one capital ratio, a measure of financial strength, by around 10 basis points when they close.

“Due to increasing regulatory complexity and the need for continued investment in technology to support our regulatory requirements, we made the decision to focus the bank’s efforts on those markets with significant scale in which we can make the greatest difference for our customers,” said Ignacio Deschamps, the head of international banking at Scotiabank, in a release.

Scotiabank has been on a bit of an acquisition binge over the past year, expanding its wealth management operations as well as in Latin America, where it is forecasting that growth in some countries will outpace Canada. Its deals include the purchase of a majority stake in a bank in Chile from Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria S.A., turning it into one of the biggest private lenders in that country.

The lender also announced in August that it had reached an agreement to buy a bank in the Dominican Republic, with Porter saying Tuesday that “we expect to remain in our core markets across the Caribbean region.”

National Bank Financial analyst Gabriel Dechaine said in a note that Scotiabank’s outlook emphasized the integration of its purchases, a message he said was “critically important, as executing on $7 billion worth of acquisitions (i.e., deriving synergies) is necessary to drive (return on invested capital) from the mid-single digits to the double-digits over the next few years.”

As well, Scotiabank reported results on Tuesday for the end of its fiscal 2018, which wrapped up Oct. 31. Earnings for the bank were $9.1 billion for the year, up 10 per cent from the year prior, after adjusting for Scotiabank’s acquisition-related costs.

Of that, $4.4 billion came from Scotiabank’s Canadian banking business, an eight-per-cent increase over last year, while another $3.1 billion came from its international banking unit, which was up 17 per cent year-over-year.

In a release, Porter said the international banking results were “driven by our operations in the countries that make up the Pacific Alliance — Mexico, Peru, Chile and Colombia — which experienced double-digit loan and deposit growth, partly reflecting recent acquisitions, positive operating leverage and stable credit quality.”

The fourth-quarter results for the bank came in slightly under analyst expectations, with the lender reporting adjusted earnings per share of $1.77 for the three months ended Oct. 31, which was still up from $1.65 the previous year.

“By and large, the underlying businesses performed well this quarter versus street expectations,” Eight Capital analyst Steve Theriault wrote, adding in a later note that “(t)he divestitures in the Caribbean are not likely the end of the road.”

• Email: gzochodne@nationalpost.com | Twitter:

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Glasgow university to pay reparations for £200m extracted from region

Glasgow university to pay reparations for £200m extracted from region

 November 25, 2018 |

Beckles

Vice Chancellor of The University of the West Indies (UWI) Sir Hilary Beckles has reported that The University of Glasgow in the United Kingdom (UK) is planning to pay reparations for £200 million (approximately J$34 billion) taken from the Caribbean.

According to Beckles, who recently returned from the UK, “The University of Glasgow has recognised that Jamaican slave owners had adopted the University of Glasgow as their university of choice and that £200 million of value was extracted from Jamaica and the Caribbean.”

Beckles made the announcement during an interview on the Jamaica News Network (JNN) programme Insight, where he said that the Vice Chancellor of the UK-based university Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli opened up their records, which showed a ‘massive influx’ of grants and endowments from Jamaica.

He said that the University of Glasgow and The UWI are currently drafting a memorandum of understanding, and the term ‘reparatory justice’ is expected to be included.

Beckles said the £200 million would be a combination of cash and kind. “We are not on the street corners asking for handouts. We are looking for partnerships and development.”

One of the projects in which the University of Glasgow has reportedly shown interest involves research in chronic diseases in the Caribbean, including hypertension, diabetes, and childhood obesity.

“They are looking at the possibility of partnering with us and having a massive institute for chronic disease research that is going to prevent the proliferation of these diseases in the future,” said Beckles.

£200m from slave trade

A report dubbed Slavery, Abolition and the University of Glasgow, published recently by the university, reveals that it benefited directly from the slave trade in Africa and the Caribbean in the 18th and 19th centuries to the tune of almost £200 million in today’s money.

The university has announced that it has launched a wide-ranging and ambitious “reparative justice programme” that is based on the findings of more than two years of research.

In addition, the University of Glasgow had also announced that it intends to implement programmes and projects that will provide scholarships and exchange programmes for Jamaican and other Caribbean students through its links with The UWI.

The full interview with Beckles will be aired on JNN on Wednesday at 10 a.m.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: A previous version of this article gave the impression that a total value of £200 million would be paid to the Caribbean through the University of the West Indies.)

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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.

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De Ole Dawg – Part 14:The Don Romeo Factor

Has Premier Romeo single-handedly wrecked Montserrat?

BRADES, Montserrat – It is a commonplace talking point in various media and on the streets, that the present government is a failure led by a non-entity who somehow bamboozled his way into the Premier’s Office. Where, he has almost single-handedly managed to wreck Montserrat’s economy. Which, is “dead.”  (Oh, we must not leave out: he is also a puppet, dangling from the wires manipulated by devious “badvisors” and incompetent, over-paid TC’s backed up by their racist colonial masters in DfID and FCO.)

Does this reflect “a true and fair view” of our circumstances and choices going forward?

“True” and “fair” are key. For, we need a sober, accurate, sound and manifestly fair-minded assessment of where we are, how we got there and what our realistic alternatives are. 

Now, let’s focus: how did Mr Romeo ever get into office?

For one, because our technocrats and highly credentialled politicians destroyed their own credibility and so for cause lost the trust of ordinary people. People therefore voted for a clean person who had a track record of telling the hard truth when it was not popular. One, who also reached out to and stood up for the vulnerable and needy[1] again and again. That meant that, from the outset, Mr Romeo was going to face bitter and sometimes dirty resistance from the rejected technocrats and insider politicians.  (In fact, such bitterness started while he was in opposition.)

From day one, he also had to address the collapse of confidence in the Montserrat Development Corporation,[2] which was facing whistle-blowers, audits and DfID’s 2012 evaluation that it had “fail[ed].” Cabinet set up a committee, but they publicly shared only a summary of its findings.[3]  Notwithstanding, the diagnosis was clear enough: credibility-destroying persistent governance failures, financial issues, failure to become self-supporting or to get actual major development investments on the ground after seven years.  Looking at the recommended options, the new administration closed it; likely imagining that they could then work with DfID to set up a fresh-start statutory corporation similar to others across the region.[4] However, once MDC was closed DfID obviously refused to support such a fresh start. This left the new government holding the empty bag.

Later, based on consultancies, a Programme Management Office was set up to bring our development initiatives portfolio, programmes and projects up to world class standard through the Axelos system. But soon after it started, the head of the new PMO was frog marched out of Government Headquarters on flimsy grounds – the “no cause” clause dismissal tells us the sad story.[5] And, a year later – surprise, surprise (NOT) – no replacement is here. That’s another big clue on the real power game being played. Similarly, urgently needed reforms for the Premier’s Office developed through years of consultancy have been road-blocked for over a year.  Yet another clue.

Add, how questions and answers in the July 31st parliament sitting[6] just exposed that early drafts for an urgently needed good governance charter and for a similarly urgently needed development partnership MoU were blocked to the point that they have not got beyond preliminary consultations.   Where, DfID has long since implied[7] that if we do not seriously reform governance, financial management and project management we will not have the credibility to attract their support for economy-transforming infrastructure investments. Clue number three.

Clearly, we must move beyond power plays, needless delays and trying to compromise between “stop” and “go.” We need a lot more transparency and accountability. We need robust change incubators backed by serious godfathers. And, when Cabinet issues an implementation order, our Premier and his Ministers must not tolerate endless delays and excuses.

Likewise, the growing list of sudden publicly humiliating dismissals on flimsy grounds and linked dragging out of recruitment for key posts is an outrage.

DfID is part of the problem, too. The ferry fiasco across 2016 clearly showed that DfID and our own government tend to fall into deadlock and needless quarrelling, or even into holding sorely needed projects, services and vulnerable people hostage. There can be no excuse for how it has taken years and years to get approval from DfID for seven sorely needed “emergency” – yes, EMERGENCY – houses. Stories about repeated attempts to impose utterly unsuitable house designs keep on leaking out.

The no-brainer fibre optic cable project should have long since been completed. Instead, it was hit by smear jobs in the UK tabloid press that obviously trace to willfully destructive leaks. This cost Montserrat at least two years of needless, economically damaging delay. 

Likewise, recent alarmist articles in the UK press tried to suggest that the volcano was about to blow up again, so “obviously” further aid to Montserrat would be a waste.  Who is leaking destructively, why? Who is dragging out project development/approval and cutting budgets into the bone, why?

In short, can we be led by soft voices of reason, facts and responsible compromise, or do we slavishly “need” the strong man’s raised fist holding a whip?

The evidence, frankly, does not look so good.

But, what about our wrecked economy?

What “economy”? As, because we did not heed credible scientific warnings from McGregor and Perret in the 1930’s down to Wadge and Isaacs in the 1980’s, we put all our economic eggs in the Plymouth basket. The goose and its golden eggs were therefore swept away from 1995 – 97.  What we have as a result is a shocked, broken-back consumption-led economy with weak productive sectors. Until this is solved, we are debating little more than how much the hard-pressed, increasingly frustrated UK taxpayer is willing to subsidise our consumption.

Since 1995, we have only been kept afloat by about £500 millions of UK aid provided under the legal force of the UN Charter, Article 73.[8]  So, from year to year, our governments have to go hat in hand to beg line by line, getting £22 millions on average. That is why the Premier rightly pointed out that 60% of Opposition Salaries and of the costs of the Opposition Office from year to year come through that commitment. It is also why cumbersome, delay-prone bureaucracy and want of capacity have too often led to a gap between budgeted and actual expenditure across several administrations, deflating the economy below its hoped-for level.

Bottomline: we have known for years what we need to do – seriously fix governance and build capacity so that catalytic infrastructure projects can trigger self-sustaining, private sector led growth (much as the Economic Growth Strategy[9] envisions). That is going to require a drastic change of the way we usually do business. 

Mr Romeo, clearly, needs to pull up his socks. So does the rest of Cabinet. So does the Opposition. So do our Senior Civil Servants. So do DfID and the FCO.  So does the media.

So, which will be our priority: getting things set right, or playing self-defeating scapegoating, delaying, dog-eat-dog politics and bureaucratic obstructionism as usual? END

[1]           See 2009 CDB-GOM report on living conditions: http://www.gov.ms/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/MSLC_FINAL-vol-1_v7.pdf

[2]           See TMR: https://www.themontserratreporter.com/mdc-shut-down/

[3]           See: https://discovermni.com/2015/04/02/summary-report-on-mdc-task-force-review/

[4]           See: https://discovermni.com/2015/04/02/mdc-to-close-at-end-of-may-future-relaunch-in-the-works/

[5]           See TMR: https://www.themontserratreporter.com/de-ole-dawg-part-22-2017-failing-the-opportunity-test/

[6]           See: https://montserratradioecho.wordpress.com/2018/07/31/tuesday-july-31-2018-a-sitting-of-the-legislative-assembly-of-montserrat/

[7]           See DfID 2012, p.1: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/67426/DFID-work-overseas-territories.pdf

[8]           See DfID 2017: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/636551/Overseas-Territories1.pdf

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

Posted in CARICOM, Columns, De Ole Dawg, International, Local, OECS, Regional0 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

CCJ set to hear matter against Trinidad and Tobago

CCJ set to hear matter against Trinidad and Tobago

ST GEORGE’S, Grenada, Nov 21, CMC – The attorney representing a Grenadian national who was denied entry into Trinidad and Tobago in December last year, said that the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) has agreed to hear the matter.

Attorney Ruggles Fergusson said that David Bain has become the first Grenadian national to be granted leave to commence proceedings against Port of Spain under the court’s Original Jurisdiction.

The CCJ, which was established in 2001 as the region’s final court to replace the London-based Privy Council, also functions as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the regional integration movement, CARICOM.

Bain was denied entry into Trinidad and Tobago on December 14, 2017, after he landed at Piarco International Airport to attend a wedding and to meet with relatives, whom he had not seen for a while.

On September 10th, he applied for special leave to commence proceedings against the Trinidad and Tobago government for breach of his right as a CARICOM national to freedom of movement as provided for under Article 45 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.

Ferguson said that at the case management hearing on Tuesday, the CCJ denied the request by Trinidad and Tobago to extend the time to file a request to be heard on the application for special leave.

“The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago was required to file the request within 14 days of being served with the application for leave, in accordance with the Original Jurisdiction Rules of the CCJ, but did not do so,” he said in a statement.

Under the Case Management Order, the attorneys for Bain are required to file their Originating Application, on or before November 27 this year to commence proceedings.

The attorneys for Trinidad and Tobago are required to file a defense within 42 days of being served and another case management conference is scheduled for January 30, next year to finalize preparation for the substantive hearing of the matter.

Ferguson said that apart from seeking a declaration that his right to freedom of movement was breached by Trinidad and Tobago, Bain is also seeking damages.

This is the second case involving Grenadian nationals to come before the CCJ in recent days.

The first involved four members of a family against the Barbados government that was heard on November 8.

The family, Royston, Glenn or, Tamika and Lynnel Gilbert claim they were bullied and humiliated over a false accusation of stealing a mobile phone in October 2016.

The application for special leave in that matter is set for hearing on January 15,, 2019.

Posted in Court, International, Local, News, OECS, Regional0 Comments

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