Archive | OECS

EASTERN CARIBBEAN CENTRAL BANK

EASTERN CARIBBEAN CENTRAL BANK

V A C A N C Y

Debt Analyst Ι, Eastern Caribbean Central Bank

Suitably qualified citizens of member territories of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) and wider CARICOM countries are invited to apply to fill the post of Debt Analyst I, in the Statistics Department (SD), at the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) in St Kitts.  Working at the ECCB provides a unique opportunity for you to help our member countries to manage their debt portfolios in a sustained and effective way to promote fiscal and debt sustainability.  The successful candidate will be based in St Kitts and will be hired initially on a two (2) year contractual engagement with the opportunity to transfer to the permanent establishment based on performance.

All applicants must complete the ECCB Employment Application Form which is available on the ECCB Website (www.eccb-centralbank.org).

SELECTION CRITERIA:

  1. A relevant first or higher degree and/or professional qualifications preferably in Economics, Finance, Business or Public Policy.
  2. At least three (3) years of relevant work experience in finance or public financial management; work experience in public debt management is a plus.

APPLICANTS MUST HAVE:

  1. Proven quantitative and qualitative analytical and problem-solving skills;
  2. Proficiency in Microsoft Excel, Word and PowerPoint;
  3. Excellent communication skills – both verbal and written;
  4. Experience in giving presentations and training;
  5. Quick learning and creative thinking abilities, with initiative and attention to details;
  6. A high level of motivation, strong interpersonal skills and the ability to work effectively in a team-oriented environment;
  7. Ability to deliver high-quality work, multitask and to work under tight deadlines and pressure;
  8. Good networking and self-management abilities;
  9. High ethical standards.

The following would be considered as assets:

  • Experience in analytical tools such as Fiscal and Debt Sustainability, Financial Programming, Medium Term Debt Management Strategy;
  • Knowledge of debt management systems;
  • Experience in providing policy advice in areas related to fiscal policy and debt management would be assets.

DUTIES

The successful candidate will work with the Fiscal, Debt and Domestic Market team.  The main responsibilities will include:

  1. Accurately managing and maintaining public sector debt statistics to ensure consistency with international standards;
  2. Providing technical support to ECCU member countries to enhance the quality of the data in the debt recording system;
  3. Providing technical support to ECCU member countries in building capacity in debt management to undertake debt portfolio reviews, debt management strategies, debt restructuring and portfolio realignment, fiscal and debt sustainability analyses, and risk and asset-liability management;
  4. Facilitating the production of debt procedures manuals, identification of best practices and standardized guidelines for debt management;
  5. Conducting training to ensure that debt data are based on international standards;
  6. Facilitating the dissemination of public sector debt statistics;
  7. Undertaking research and providing policy advice to ECCU member countries on debt management issues in pursuit of fiscal and debt sustainability;
  8. Any other related duties which may be assigned.

SALARY

This position will be offered at a Grade 7 level. 

The following documents must be submitted:

  • Employment application form
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Two (2) original letters of reference
  • Certified copies of certificates
  • Official transcripts where applicable

Supporting documents should be addressed to:

Human Resource Department
Eastern Caribbean Central Bank
BASSETERRE
St Kitts

hrd@eccb-centralbank.org

To reach no later than 3 July 2020.

Note:   
1.  Applicants may enquire of the Human Resource Department to ascertain receipt of applications;
2.  Only candidates shortlisted for the selection process will be contacted;
3.  Shortlisted candidates will be required to undertake various assessments.

Posted in Advertisements, Business/Economy/Banking, Local, OECS, Regional, Vacancies0 Comments

Safe & Sound

Safe & Sound

Reprint       News        Covid-19 is NOT a virus!

Health

Find out what Covid-19 really is and how you can protect yourself

One thing COVID-19 isn’t is a virus. There – I said it! Not that you would know from everything that’s buzzing around the media right now.

So if it’s not a virus, what is it?

COVID-19 is the disease you develop from being infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Imagine it like HIV which is the virus that causes the disease AIDS.
Or the Streptococcus bacterium that causes tonsillitis.

So what does SARS-CoV stand for and how did it start?

SARS-CoV stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome caused by the Coronavirus and SARS-CoV-2 is the latest strain of the virus.

Scientists have been looking at the genome sequencing of this virus and have traced its origins back many tens of thousands of years. Coronavirus is part of a family of viruses that cause various diseases in various animals and, more recently, humans.

Scroll forward thousands of years. The first human Coronavirus was discovered by Tyrrell and Bynoe, back in the 1960s. They took respiratory tract swabs from human volunteers who were suffering from the common cold. They discovered a common infectious agent and the story of human Coronavirus began.

Whilst this was a fantastic discovery, it only answered a few questions about an otherwise innocent disease. Oh, and also to gain its name due to the crown-like projections emanating from the virus cell’s membrane. Coronavirus!

Forward again to the 21st Century. The first strain of SARS-CoV appeared in 2002 in a small city in the Guangdong Province of China (population of around 7.2 million) on the border with Hong Kong where a farmer became ill with a severe respiratory infection. The virus spread around the world infecting 8,000 people (as far as we know) and was attributed to 774 deaths in 17 countries.

SARS-CoV came and went without a huge global concern given the overall numbers affected.

Fast forward to 2012: Saudi Arabia. The first case of MERS (Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome) was reported. This spread around many countries and even reached the UK in 2015. Its official name is MERS-CoV. Since its discovery, it has infected around 2,494 people (laboratory-confirmed cases) and 858 reported deaths over 27 countries. Again, no global crisis because of such low numbers.

Now jump forward to late 2019 and back to China. This time an outbreak in the sprawling capital of Central China’s Hubei Province, Wuhan (probably from a meat market). The first example of the current mutation of the virus, SARS-CoV-2. Let’s dive in and look at why this strain of Coronavirus is causing worldwide chaos when SARS and MERS did not.

Lots of people say that flu is a huge global killer, so what’s the big deal about Coronavirus?

The World Health Organisation estimates the global deaths from seasonal flu at a minimum of 290,000 annually,

This is clearly a big number. So why the panic around Coronavirus? As we will see, for various reasons, left unchecked, the science around this new disease is that it would kill far more people than the flu. Why is this?

First up, It’s not about how many people die from it. It’s about how many catch it and survive!

In the case of SARS, there were 774 deaths out of 8,000 infected. This is a mortality rate of 9.7%.

Turning to MERS, there were 858 deaths out of 2,494 deaths, a staggering mortality rate of 35%! That means that if 100 people catch it, 35 will die.

Initially, the data suggests that this new strain of Coronavirus, SARS-COV-2, has a mortality rate of between 2-4%. On the face of it, the new virus doesn’t sound like a big deal.

However, this ignores the likely number of people infected worldwide. 2% of 1,000 would be a minor public health issue. However SARS-COV-2 is incredibly infectious and without massive interventions, many millions will be infected and 2% of millions is a huge loss of human life.

The Infection Rate

In order to understand why SARS-CoV-2 is so infectious, we need to understand something called the infection rate, calculate it for this virus and then work out how many people could potentially contract the illness and thus work out how many could possibly die.

The infection rate is how many people can a single person infect if they have the illness. We call this the R0 (R nought) number or reproduction number.
For example, flu has an R0 1.3.

So for each person that has the flu, they will pass that on to another 1.3 persons. Then they, in turn, will pass that on to another 1.3 people. And on it goes.

To add some context, measles has an R0 between 12-18 depending on various factors. So measles is incredibly infectious which is why public health authorities are so concerned to ensure close to 100% of the population are vaccinated. Without mass vaccination, millions would die from measles each year.

So with this data can we predict how many will catch this new virus and how many may die?

Well, no, not quite. There is something else we have to factor in and that’s the incubation time.

Incubation Time

Incubation time determines how many people will get sick over what timeframe. The flu has an incubation period of just a few days. And you may not show any symptoms over those few days but are still passing the virus on.

In just a few days the flu can infect many people. However, you know you have it sooner and can isolate so as not to infect others. In fact, most of us are too ill to want to go out once we have the symptoms. So we often stop spreading it as widely, at that stage, because we naturally travel less through the community.

So, in the case of viruses with long incubation periods, the longer the period we can infect other people. In the case of viruses where some or a large proportion of those infected have no symptoms during the incubation period, the more people we unknowingly infect.

Putting it all Together

We can now understand why SARS-CoV-2 is posing a worldwide pandemic and an unprecedented public health emergency not seen since the 1918-19 Spanish flu epidemic which killed an estimated 20-50 million people globally.

This new variant of SARS-CoV has an R0 of 2-2.5, has an incubation period between 1-14 days and, particularly in young people can be completely symptomless.

So can we now see how a) it will infect more people, b) they won’t know they are infected until they have had the virus for a while.

The combination of these factors means that if societies do not take extreme measures to socially isolate citizens, the virus will spread extremely rapidly and widely. Public Health England and other reputable medical sources estimate infection rates where such measures are not taken of approximately 80%

Even if the estimated death rate for SARS-CoV-2 of 2-4% is exaggerated – let’s apply an overall death rate of 1% – this would mean around 54 million of the UK population would be infected and around 540,000 would die. Taking the lower of the 2-4% range, over a million people would perish in the UK.

The idea that SARS-CoV-2 is just like the flu is dangerously wrong. This virus is a very dangerous beast and requires the huge and urgent international response it has generated.

How does the SARS-CoV virus work?

This virus can’t walk and it most certainly can’t fly. What’s more, it can only use those little crown projections coming out of it to bond to very specific cells. It can’t just bond to any old cell in your body.

It’s a respiratory tract infection. It can only bind to those special cells.

How does the SARS-CoV virus get into our body?

Usually, you put it there! Viruses are very intelligently adaptable. They have been on this planet longer than we have. They need to reproduce and then get out to find new hosts. Not just new host cells within the first animal they find: if they infect too many cells that the animal will die taking the virus along with it. Somehow they have to find a way to get out of this host animal and into another one. It’s incredibly difficult to infect another species, so it needs to find lots of the same species of animal in one place.

With this in mind, viruses tend to infect areas where they can easily get in but also get out. It’s no coincidence that Norovirus makes you expel all your bodily contents from both orifices of your digestive system! Its evolutionary capability is to reach as far and wide as possible.

The same mechanism drives coughing and sneezing when we have the flu. This enables the virus to reach other potential hosts.

On the other hand, when the virus leaves the body, it is under threat. It can’t live for very long outside the body. So it needs to find a new host before it dies. If the environmental factors are right, some viruses can live outside a host for many days. SARS-CoV 2 mostly relies on you coughing out large droplets of water to carry it and give it some temporary accommodation. Depending on what it lands on, its survival is a matter of hours or several days.

Direct contact can allow the virus to be passed from one person to another. The closer the contact, the more likely. Kissing is a virus’ best and easiest route. But the most likely route is usually your hands. That’s where the tyres meet the tarmac, so to speak. It’s how we interact with our surroundings.

An infected person touches another person or a hard surface and the virus waits for you to touch your face to facilitate migration into its new host animal – YOU!

What happens once we become infected by SARS-CoV?

Once inside your body, the virus binds to cells that have similar receptors to itself.

This is what’s called an enveloped virus – it has a special fat layer around the outside. This helps protect it between host cells but it also looks like a protein that should not be attacked by the immune system. Initially anyway. The virus is not of human origin so our immune system doesn’t recognise it. The infected cell is then fooled into accepting the virus.

This is where the virus gets to work. It has found a new host and the new cells are healthy. So the virus starts to hijack the cell. The virus then uses the cell’s factory to start printing out millions of copies of itself. But it has to hide these new copies so they don’t get attacked. This is another vulnerable stage for the virus. It uses our cells to coat the new copies, to hide them and releases them in search of new hosts. The virus ruthlessly keeps printing copies until it kills the host cell that it’s hijacked. It hopes that the new copies have infected new cells and thus the cycle continues.

As more and more cells are destroyed in the production of new viruses, the system begins to break down. So, in the case of a respiratory tract infection, lung cells. Obviously, fewer functioning lung cells means reduced functionality of the lungs.

In the case of SARS-CoV 2, the evidence suggests that this is the most likely cause of death. Those with existing reduced lung function, like the elderly or those with lung diseases, are at the most risk. But any underlying health condition that reduces your body’s ability to fight infections, increases the risk.

But it’s not all bad. The clock is ticking for the virus. As it kills more cells, our immune system will be enlightened to that and start to react. Actively looking for and killing new viruses that are released from damaged host cells. Now it’s the battle of the fittest. This is why those who are young, fit or healthy have strong immune systems and their systems are best able to fight the virus and kill it off. Those people either have no symptoms or mild or moderate symptoms. They will not need medical treatment although drinking lots of fluid and taking paracetamol can be used to reduce headaches and aching limbs. Those who are less fit, older, with less strong immune systems will experience much more serious symptoms and may need to be hospitalised.

Symptoms of SARS-CoV-2

The reports of symptoms are far and wide. Ranging from no symptoms at all, all the way up to death.

However, the 2 most common symptoms are:

• a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
• a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)

The only way to know if you really have SARS-CoV 2 is by testing.

The UK is currently only testing hospital admissions that are displaying the common symptoms. There is no test available at the moment for people who have already contracted the illness but recovered. And until we have one it’s very difficult to accurately calculate the mortality rate, infection rate and incubation period. It may be that many more have had this virus than first thought, which would significantly reduce the mortality rate. The UK Government has announced that it is very close to the release of mass self-testing to see whether individuals have had the illness because the test will detect whether they have developed antibodies (prior to last December, no human had had the virus so no-one was immune).

I think I have Covid-19 – what should I do?

If you have symptoms of coronavirus (a high temperature or a new, continuous cough), use the 111 coronavirus service: NHS 111 Service

DO NOT go to places like a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.

What can I do to prevent getting Covid-19?

At the moment, there is no vaccine or anti-viral drug for the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Once you are infected and develop Covid-19 all you can do is alleviate symptoms. So if you have a fever, for example, try to reduce it.
Government advice is changing daily with daily bulletins, updates and advice.
But as with any virus, we can take certain basic precautions.

Hand Washing is Your Best Weapon

Soap and water will remove the virus. Alcohol hand sanitiser can damage the fatty shell and make the virus more vulnerable. Washing robs much of the natural oils from our skin causing it to dry out. Dry skin is incredibly difficult to clean, so moisturiser is just as important as soap! After washing, try to moisturise to keep your skin hydrated and make it easier to clean.

Should I wear a face mask?

Surgical face masks won’t stop you contracting the virus. The mask is to stop the healthcare worker coughing onto their vulnerable patients. Evidence has shown that face masks can increase the risk as they get wet (remember this virus needs those water droplets) and human behaviour. Those not accustomed to wearing them touch their face more frequently than they would normally have done. Although if you have the virus you can prevent others from contracting it by using a mask or covering your face when coughing or sneezing.

Social Distancing

I’ve already mentioned how water droplets can’t travel far. So social distancing is another great weapon to combat the increased spread of the virus.
The droplets from coughing and sneezing can reach up to 2 meters from the infected host. So maintaining at least that distance in an open space should prevent infection.

Isolate Yourself

Stay at home as much as you can. Only leave for essential items or to help someone who is vulnerable and cannot care for themselves. And remember that you can be infected and spread this virus with little or no symptoms.
Understand the R0 factor and incubation period as I discussed earlier.
If one member of your household contracts it, the chances are the rest will.

Symptoms usually last for 5-7 days. But in those where they have been complications, it can take several weeks to recover.

What About Herd Immunity?

So if most of us will be ok, then why not just go get it?

Herd immunity does work. But it works much more safely if we can vaccinate rather than take the gamble people will survive the illness. It’s estimated about 20% of those that contract this virus will require hospitalisation. With about a quarter of those which will require Intensive Care.

In number terms, it is estimated that instead of 540,000 plus dying if nothing is done, using herd immunity and then protecting the vulnerable would reduce the number of deaths by around half to 250,000.

This is why the UK Government has introduced a significant lockdown of the country. The experts have estimated that if the UK population follows the guidelines strictly, the number of overall deaths could be substantially limited, possibly as low as around 25,000.

So what is the difference between the herd immunity model and the lockdown model?

Whilst our healthcare system is currently coping, we are only in the very early stage of the epidemic in the UK at the moment.

If the growth of those catching the virus is not strongly controlled by changing the population’s exposure to each other over the cycle of the virus until there is a vaccine available (estimated at 1 year to 18 months) or effective anti-viral medication (period unknown), the health service will rapidly become overwhelmed in terms of human resources, beds, oxygen, ventilators and personal protection equipment. Many, many thousands of people will needlessly die both from the virus and also from other illnesses which the health system will not be able to treat.

Herd immunity involves allowing 80% of the population to carry on with business as usual whilst the most vulnerable are in lockdown. However, this will mean that too many people will catch the virus and get ill at the same time. Around 20% of those catching it will become seriously ill and the health service will rapidly become overwhelmed.

Hence the new model: everyone apart from essential workers are placed into periods of home lockdown. This is designed to ensure that the virus spreads in as controlled and limited way as possible so that over the medium term the health services can cope and the maximum number of lives can be saved.

If most people recover after 7 days, then our beds should clear relatively quickly and will be ready for the next wave. It would be easier to deal with many small waves than one big one. Any good sailor will tell you that.
Each country has to deal with this in a different way. Individual demographics (some cultures have more people living in a single homestead), social demographics (elderly populations are more vulnerable), transport systems (better transport the larger the infection rate). I could go on. But the variables will make timing and tactics very different from country to country.

When will this end?

The truth is, we don’t know. What we do know about viruses is that they die off either by lack of hosts (because they are dead or too far away to infect so the virus naturally dies) or by having antibodies against the virus in our immune system via vaccination or surviving the virus.

But even then this could change seasonally and our antibodies may only offer short term protection like the flu.

The better question perhaps is how will this end? Here our answer is driven by what we know about the virus as summarised above. If through lockdown, the spread can be reversed, if the reversal is maintained eventually the population will be virus-free. How does the spread reverse: the answer is the R0 becomes less than 1. We know that uncontrolled the SARS-CoV-2 has an R0 of 2.3 meaning one person will on average infect 2.3 other people. If we successfully self-isolate, the R0 will drop. In a strange hypothetical world where every person the entire world self-isolated for six weeks, the R0 would eventually hit 0 i.e. no-one is infecting anyone else!

In the real world, the likelihood of the virus dying out in the human population is highly remote because different countries are imposing different degrees of lockdown. Thailand is an example of a country which has closed its borders, internal curfews, etc. It has had 1,045 cases and 4 deaths in an overall population of around 69 million. It is of course much closer to the original epicentre of the illness, China, than the UK which has a population of around 67.7 million, 9,529 cases and 465 deaths. The UK’s policy has shifted from a more liberal herd immunity approach initially to a much greater degree of lockdown in the last week.

We must bear in mind that European countries, a group of liberal democracies, will be balancing restrictions against the constraints on these actions in free societies. Even within Europe, the UK is more permissive than, say, Italy and Spain.

Bottom line, given different approaches, the virus will not disappear anytime soon. So the virus will not be totally defeated for many years to come. The threat it poses can be substantially reduced if we all follow the UK Government’s directions and, we hope, many of these restrictions can be reduced and subsequently totally lifted once vaccines and anti-viral medications are in place within the next year to 18 months.

Wishing you all well. Stay home, stay safe.

Mark Waterfield

Infection Control Lead for Safe and Sound

Posted in CARICOM, Climate/Weather, COVID-19, Environment, Featured, Health, International, Local, News, OECS, Regional0 Comments

SKB-Labour-WhatsApp-Image-2020-05-27-at-8.32.45-PM

ZIZ St. Kitts Government Radio Station under fire from Opposition Political Party – Labour

With just over a week to go to general elections in St. Kitts, the St. Kitts-Nevis opposition Labour Party has sued the Government and the Radio Station, ZIZ.

Elections are due on June 5, 2020.

Posted in CARICOM, Elections, Labour, Local, News, OECS, Politics, Regional0 Comments

COVID19-Report-April-17

Active cases down one, with second person recovered

as of April 17, 2020

With the Royal Montserrat Police Force (RMPS) boasting and becoming it seems the most important agency in the fight against COVID-19, with the emphasis on containment in the unknown or the most serious method of transmission, they announce and give a breakdown of the 46 arrests they have made since the Health Act began to show its emergency powers.

Today, the Ministry of Health in its most recent release via the Government Information Unit says, “A second person has fully recovered from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on Montserrat.”

The release explains confirmation by CARPHA after investigating “seven (7) local samples which included five (5) follow-up swabs from confirmed cases and two (2) suspected cases. These latest results mean that Montserrat’s active, on–island cases have now decreased to eight (8), and recoveries have increased to two.

Unfortunately, with the police saying the 46 arrests they have made between March 28 and April 14, it is bothersome that between those dates there were two newly confirmed cases of infected persons with the virus. More worrisome was, that the Premier in his statement and subsequent press conference on Good Friday said that the reason for imposing a complete shutdown as of April 12 from midnight was, being “…aware that not everyone carrying the virus, exhibit symptoms…the danger where persons who are asymptomatic are walking around affecting others.”

He provided no evidence for this and even denied that was what he said. That was preceded with the excuse, “The Ministry of Health is unable to undertake wide-scale testing at this time…” a position created by their slothfulness even up to that point, shown up in the March 28 press conference.

According to the police, the most arrests occurred on April 11, (Saturday after Good Friday) when 15 persons were arrested.  A further breakdown of the arrests during this period is as follows: 18 arrests were made between March 28 to April 8; three arrests on April 10; two arrests on April 2 and 4 arrests on April 13 and 14. Between March 28 and April 8, the police had to issue 12 warnings, which included two juveniles.

Sounding like a boast with no new cases, “All 46 arrests will advance to court on breach of the Public Health (COVID-19 Control and Suppression) (no 2) Order S.R.O. 22 of 2020 (those before April 13), and breach of the Public Health (COVID-19 Shelter in Place) Order 25 of 2020, for those arrested after 12:00 a.m on April 13.

While no matter the size of the population 46 arrests within that space of time, statistically is considerable, though the demography may be an important consideration. It would be interesting to learn the reasons being proffered by these persons for their suspected infractions. It may not surprise that some of those reasons may be the shortcoming of how the whole situation is being managed.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Featured, Government Notices, International, Legal, News, OECS, Regional0 Comments

Douglassss

The Rule of Law and The Creation of Wealth for the masses

Dr. Denzil Douglas shares two lofty ideals that his in-coming government stands for

Beresford Mack speaks with Dr. Denzil Douglas who prepares to take back the Government of St. Kitts-Nevis

Dr. Denzil Douglas

In the spirit of expanding partnership with those in the diaspora and sharing good governance responsibility, the Political Leader of the NextGen St. Kitts and Nevis Labour Party, Dr. Denzil Douglas outlined his leadership vision and governance strategy for the Federation.

Dr. Douglas sat down for an interview with award-winning freelance journalist Beresford Mack and gave these insights.

BM: Dr. Douglas, what are some of the things that you and your NextGen Labour team think are most important for an ordered society?

Dr. Douglas: My young and vibrant colleagues and I hold two goals and lofty ideas as sacred. First, the rule of law must be an essential ingredient in maintaining our democracy. When others have demonstrated a reckless disregard and disrespect for the dignity of the court, we respect the rule of law and the judiciary and take great pride in our long tradition of the fair administration of Justice.

Second, we believe that our in-coming government must create wealth through the enormous benefits we will be bringing to the good people of St. Kitts and Nevis on returning to government.

BM: What are some of the major projects that will create employment opportunities in construction and ignite sustained economic growth across all sectors of the economy starting in 2021?

Dr. Douglas: We are anxious to deliver a bridge between St. Kitts and Nevis, which will open big opportunities and create an economic zone at both ends. This project is designed to consolidate and expand our tourism industry especially with an emphasis in medical tourism.

We will also construct a highway from western Basseterre to the Whitegate Development area. This will bring us additional economic activity for the expansion of the Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College campus in Nevis and the western campus in St. Kitts, thus offering our young people a first-class education foundation nearer to their homes.

To further improve our infrastructure, we will build a brand-new airport terminal with several jet bridges to increase the number of new airlines that we will woo to our lovely Federation.

BM: What is NextGen Labour’s vision for sports development?

Dr. Douglas: The Next Gen SKN incoming government is also anxious to begin the construction of a National Sports Academy, through which our young, highly talented and skillful men and women will be prepared to compete professionally in basketball, soccer, tennis, netball, golf, volleyball, swimming, track and field, and netball. They will also be prepared with the social graces, leadership skills, commitment to excellence and resilience, all-important skills and attributes that they will need as productive citizens in their adult lives.

BM: How will local stakeholders benefit from this new economic development vision?

Dr. Douglas: Our building and construction policy is geared towards cooperation with local businesses and international investors so that we provide a fair and transparent framework of conditions that bring solid but sustainable benefits to everyone. Therefore, we envision resuscitating the La Vallee Development Project while at the same time complete the construction of three boutique hotels at Kittitian Hill and building a state of the art Technical Training Institute. I want our people to keep abreast of the latest knowledge and techniques in their fields to perform beyond expectations.

BM: What about healthcare?

Dr. Douglas: The Next Gen SKN incoming government is already engaged in dialogue with several players in the global healthcare industry to build a state of the art hospital, a medical complex, upgrade community clinics and integrate various medical and nursing programs to the deliver the best education and cutting edge health care services to our people. We must be better able to cope with and minimize the impact of global outbreaks on our citizens.

BM: I know that you are a staunch integrationist. What role do you see for St. Kitts and Nevis as a regional player?

Dr. Douglas: I want St. Kitts and Nevis to play a vital role in shaping regional politics and economics. I will promote the formation of a CAPITAL MARKET as an important instrument to raise the finances to fund several of these major projects. My young, innovative and energetic team and I, envision our Federation working together with CARICOM and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States to confront global challenges and share equal responsibility for adapting to new priorities and challenges as they arise.

Beresford Mack is a strategic communications consultant, award-winning freelance journalist and social media marketing specialist. He has worked in the Caribbean, the United Kingdom, and the USA. He has won a Sony Radio award (which is described as the UK Radio Oscars) and a whilst working at London’s biggest Urban Radio Station Choice FM which has now been rebranded as Capital Xtra.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Culture, Elections, Local, News, OECS, Politics, Regional, Sports0 Comments

Grace-recflowers-from-Chairman-gives-flowers-to-chman-DSC_1677w

St. Patrick’s Day Lecture feature – Praedial Larceny

Contributed by Cleo Cassell

Grace Cassell, delivering the lecture

I would like to make a confession before I continue. I confess, not to committing praedial larceny, but to never attending any of the St. Patrick’s Day lectures before March 10, 2020. I believed that by fate I should go this year because every time I turned the radio on the advertisement seemed to beckon me through the speakers. The topic also appealed to my creative mind. Praedial Larceny: A Scourge on Agricultural Production and Food Security, and in my mind, I personified Praedial Larceny and imagined this character whipping agriculture and food security.

        In contrast, the setting of the conference room at the Cultural Centre was intimate and calming. The lofty windows had been dressed with draped fabric of our green, orange and white madras, while our sturdy national flower, the Heliconia, muted the stark white walls. Even more pleasing to see were the green chairs that were almost filled to capacity.

The St. Patrick’s Day lecture truly added a sophisticated element to the debauchery that the day was becoming. It was an unmistakable reminder that the St. Patrick’s celebration was much more: it was a celebration of our ancestors who fought for our freedom. Later on, it became apparent that the lecture was also important because it was a way to safeguard Montserrat’s undocumented history in this new emerging Montserrat where so many memories of the pre-volcanic times had been buried and displaced.

The lecture was amply chaired by Mr. Claude Brown the infamous host of Farmers’ Corner, President of the Farmer’s Association and Former Agriculture Development Officer. Besides his credentials, Brown’s soothing voice, pleasant way of lightening the seriousness of the mood with a joke or two and seamless way of segueing into the next segment seemed to keep the audiences’ attention.

Claude Browne

However, Brown was not the only trick up the sleeve, there was entertainment. First came Lord Meade’s calypso, which passionately told the story of a farmer who was frustrated by his neighbours’ “damn” livestock that were harvesting his produce before he had a chance to. Our very own historian and poet, Professor Sir Howard Fergus followed with two recent poems and an old one about praedial larceny.  I do not know about the audience, but I thoroughly enjoyed his readings. It reminded me of sitting in tutorials listening to the man who made me fall in love with poetry, Professor Mervin Morris.

Sir Professor Howard Fergus

The main feature did not disappoint either. Miss Gracelyn Cassell began the lecture with anecdotes. She told the story of entitled workmen who openly stole coconuts from the Open Campus to the heart-wrenching story of her uncle, Cephas Cassel who died by the scourge of praedial larceny. The saga of Cephas’ was an allusion to the Cain and Abel story told in Genesis. Cain was a farmer and Abel a shepherd; however, it was Cain’s jealousy that led his naive brother to his death just as the murderer had done to the innocent Cephas.

My mind was completely engaged by then and kept ticking as Cassell transitioned into the historical perspectives of praedial larceny. It was once accepted as a means to an end for the emancipated slave, but was also negatively described by Bryan as a ‘typical black perversion’. Bryan’s notion appeared to be a paradox as Cassell continued by illustrating contemporary experiences, praedial larceny’s impact on food security, the approaches and measures taken to solve this problem. Although not mentioned, I shuddered as I was able to make the connection with the disturbing piracy that regularly occurred off the coast of Africa. Praedial larceny was once petty theft and was tolerated as a means of subsistence, but it had morphed into the pure evil of Cain. It was the business of highly organized theft.

Praedial larceny was much more than just stealing it was a scourge on people’s psyche. At the end of the lecture, the audience was encouraged to share a memory or experience about praedial larceny. Some of the accounts had been hoarded for over 40 years and involved even huge cows disappearing into thin air. The account that really pricked me the most was hearing about a grandmother who put pins into her provisions not to harm buyers, but to discourage people from purchasing from the thieving seller. This story reminded the audience that praedial larceny was also a public health and safety issue.

I left the lecture with a lot to think about, but not ill-equipped. Although I did not have a definite remedy for the problem, I could do my part to help put an end to praedial larceny. I would make sure I bought from reputable farmers.

Posted in COVID-19, Education, Fashion, Legal, Local, News, OECS, Opinions, Poems, Security0 Comments

image

World Bank Approves US$11.9 Million Additional Financing for Telecommunications Development in the Eastern Caribbean

WASHINGTON, March 26, 2020 – The World Bank Board of Executive Directors approved today, additional financing of US$11.9 million for the Caribbean Regional Communications Infrastructure Program (CARCIP) underway in Grenada, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

This financing will allow the completion of the regional broadband network as well as training activities, business incubation loans, and implementation support. The program has established undersea cables connecting the three countries and is rolling out terrestrial fiber optics. More than half of the office buildings in all three islands have been connected to the internet and over half of schools are connected in two of the countries. With this additional financing, schools in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines will be connected to internet services. Key results include increasing access to regional broadband networks and helping develop an Information and Communications Technology (ICT)-enabled services industry. 

“Development of digital technology is essential for local, national, regional, and global connectivity and it is especially important for the small states in the Eastern Caribbean,” said Tahseen Sayed, World Bank Country Director for the Caribbean. “Affordable and good quality high-speed internet is critical and plays a central role in connecting people, creating efficiency in public and private services, enhancing productivity and increasing countries’ capabilities to manage natural disasters and crises.”

The program was developed as part of the Caribbean region ICT strategy—the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Digital Agenda 2025—which was designed to address the challenges of a fragmented market and uneven distribution of resources in this sector.

The ongoing CARCIP program provided financing in the amount of US$25 million. Of the US$11.9 million approved today, US$3 million will go to Grenada, US$4.1 million to Saint Lucia, and US$4.8 million to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. These additional funds will cover financing gaps, including cost increases in infrastructure construction and training activities.

Contacts:

In Washington, Hannah McDonald-Moniz, (202) 250-4498, hmcdonaldmoniz@worldbank.org

For more information, please visit: www.worldbank.org/caribbean
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/worldbank 
Twitter: @WBCaribbean 
YouTube: www.youtube.com/worldbank   

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

DSC_1222-edited

Montserrat works with Caribmedevac for air ambulance services

CaribMedevac’s Pilatus PC-12 at JAO airport

The Air Ambulance by St. Barth Executive (St. Barth Executive’s ‘Caribmedevac’ – SBE) made an inaugural landing at the John A. Osborne Airport at approximately 11:35 a.m. on Tuesday, February 4, 2020, in their Pilatus PC-12 (See more on the aircraft at BarthsExecutivedot.com)

This was part of an approval process to operate flights from Montserrat, in finalising arrangements for an additional airline to provide medical evacuation services (medevac) from Montserrat to other countries with the Government of Montserrat through the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS). The process is finally to be able to transfer some of the islands critical patients to other regional hospitals, and further afield, as required.

Caribmedevac touches down and taxiing during its tests of landing and taking off exercises at JAirport on Feb 4 20 Caribmedevac

Once they have been approved to operate commercially, Caribmedevac and its medical crew will be available, based on the MOHSS request, to provide medical transportation services from Montserrat to other destinations, including long-range international flights to the USA.

Invited to a Press Briefing and Air Ambulance Tour, MoHSS officials and mostly other staff, nurses, doctors, involved in the process were on hand to witness the first arrival of the Air Ambulance (air ambulance aircraft) by St. Barth Executive Caribmedevac an organisation which has been operating for five years already.

Vincent Beauvarlet, CEO
Minister of Health Charles Kirnon with PS Gerald and CMO Greenaway-Duberry in the background

There was a welcome ceremony for the medical transportation visit opening with a prayer, followed by welcome by Permanent Secretary Mrs. Camille Thomas-Gerald, brief addresses by the Hon Health Minister Charles Kirnon and Chief Medical Officer Mrs. Sharra Greenaway-Duberry,  who at her turn said she was more than excited that the hard work to bring in the SBE to Montserrat had reached this far. She expressed gratitude to the medical staff, officials, fire and rescue and all of those who support the work of the ministry for their unwavering support.

Minister Kirnon noted that this arrangement will add an extra level of resilience in Montserrat’s health sector, and is timely, especially as we are moving towards the goal of a new hospital.

, CEO Vincent Beauvarlet MoHSS officials and staff – above: Veronica Dorsette-Hector and OECS, official

“This air access development for our medical services links with the broader healthcare development and the new hospital, so that we maximize and improve our healthcare services and outcomes, stabilizing our health system now and for the future,” he said, while Mrs. Camille Thomas-Gerald echoing the sentiments and further noted that securing this service is part of the Ministry’s strategic objective.

“The MOHSS has an obligation to ensure that our patients are being provided with optimal healthcare services at all times, and to do this we must continually explore avenues through which we can expand and optimize healthcare delivery, for our patients on the ground and those we are transporting overseas,” Mrs. Gerald said.

Pilots who flew in the Caribmedevac aircraft

Prior to this arrangement with ‘Caribmedevac’, local commercial airline Fly Montserrat, provided air transportation services exclusively for the MoHSS when requested. “I want to also acknowledge the role that Fly Montserrat has played over the years, and will continue to play along with St. Barth Executive’s ‘Caribmedevac’ for our medical air transfers”, added Health Minister, Honourable Kirnon.

Fly Montserrat will continue to provide the short 20-minute trips to Antigua. Minister Kirnon added that it is his hope that the island will become less dependent on the need to fly patients out of Montserrat.

Vincent Beauvarlet, CEO and Director of Operations who also addressed the small gathering, gave details of the French company an air carrier under European Commission Regulation, which boasts Safety, Experience, and services.  ‘Caribmedevac’ is based Guadeloupe, St. Barthélémy and St. Martin, is an EASA-certificated scheduled air carrier servicing the region with urgent air transportation for a medical crew, medical equipment, blood, organs or lab samples. Caribmedevac is a Trademark of St Barth Executive.

Beauvarlet explained that their aim is to offer rates which are about 10% of what many countries presently pay for medivacs. He cited Dominica who may need to send a critical care patient to Trinidad must hire a plane out of Miami at a cost of around US$25,000.  He points out that since St. Barth Executive, will have planes on St. Barths, Guadeloupe and St. Martin it will make it much easier and more affordable to serve the region.

At question time TMR prompted by the sounds of the high costs involved, asked the only question that time allowed before three groups of ten were afforded a tour of the air ambulance aircraft under the guidance of the two pilots. “How do you get paid? Is it going to be done by an insurance company or strictly by the government?”

The CEO did take some time with his answer, continually reminding that his English is not very good. He said: “…most of the time it is the hospital who manages everything, the local hospital, the local hospital call us and says we have this case… then our doctors can study it, this is the first step… then we do a quote the best quote we can with one medics or two medics…”

He gave an example of how the money is raised: “…they share, the insurance put 20 %, the social security put 10% and the family put 50%, sometimes it’s the opposite. Sometimes social security puts 50% sometimes insurance puts 40%, sometimes the insurance calls for 100% if they have full coverage…”

He noted: “very few citizens of Caribbean – full coverage because of the rates… we have no issue on payments everyone is trusting everyone so when we need to, we take off…” suggesting all along that the payment gets worked out.

The idea of that question was to raise the question and propose that the government and people of Montserrat to benefit from the upscaled services, notwithstanding the Minister’s hope that with the new hospital, Montserrat ‘will’ not have a need for too much of that kind of service.

As later explained by the pilots, the aircraft, which is Swiss made, is able to fly to Trinidad in one hour from Montserrat and 55 minutes to Barbados at a height of 31,000 feet.

The CEO in his delivery noted, confirming Minister Kirnon, that they will not replace FlyMontserrat as their services will only provide longer runs. He provided in-depth details of their service. Some of the features of the air ambulance include reduced cabin noise in flight; no vibration; last generation special air medical pressure and the ability to fly around and above any weather disturbance.

He points out that they meet the region’s medivac needs, with trained maintenance technicians and engineers at its various hubs to service the aircraft. The Pilatus PC-12 NG aircraft designed by the Swiss only needs half of the airport runway for takeoffs and landings says the CEO. It also has the ability to maintain the cabin pressure at ground level although it is at 30,000 feet in the air. This allows them to fly quickly like a jet. Doctors are a part of the team and work to ensure the patients are stabilised before they are transported.

To be able to accomplish its goal of serving the region’s medivac needs, the airline has trained maintenance technicians and engineers at its various hubs to service the aircraft.

The Pilatus PC-12 NG aircraft with its single-engined turbine designed by the Swiss only needs half of the airport runway for takeoffs and landings says the CEO. It also has the ability to maintain the cabin pressure at ground level although it is at 30,000 feet in the air. This allows them to fly quickly like a jet. Doctors are a part of the team and work to ensure the patients are stabilised before they are transported.

Posted in CARICOM, Featured, Health, International, Local, News, OECS, Regional, TOURISM0 Comments

PM-Gaston-Browne

Antigua and Barbuda stands with CARICOM Chair Mia Motley on US Invitation

Barbados Prime Minister Mia Motley, Chairman of CARICOM

Antigua and Barbuda says it is standing in solidarity with CARICOM Chair and Barbados Prime Minister Mia Motley on her position in not sending a representative to the announced meeting with US Secretary State Mike Pompeo in Jamaica on Tuesday.

Antigua and Barbuda’s E.P. Chet Greene, Minister of Foreign Affairs said, “We are very much in support of, and identify with the sentiments expressed by the CARICOM Chair, PM Motley of Barbados. As a government, we stand in support of this position.”

PM Motley made her declaration over the weekend when she stated, “As chairman of CARICOM, it is impossible for me to agree that my Foreign Minister should attend a meeting to which members of CARICOM are not invited,” and suggested it was an attempt at divide and rule among CARICOM countries, “if some are invited and not all”.

E.P. Chet Greene, Antigua and Barbuda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs

In a statement late on Monday, Antigua and Barbuda reiterates its stance on fostering stronger intraregional relations and common regional approaches to international relations.

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

Comparison-voting-patterns-2014-HT-Wikipedia-1

MNI: Post-Election reflections and challenges, 2019

November 29, 2019

How will we best manage our development partnership with the post-Brexit UK and the upcoming UN Charter Article 73 C24 visit?

We also note that, with a split opposition, the former administration PDM team is now the bulk of the opposition, three seats led by Hon Mr. Paul Lewis. Former Premier Romeo sits as the fourth opposition member, having been elected on an independent ticket. We wish the new opposition well too, not least because a good opposition that is credible as the potential next government is a key part of our democratic system.

Comparison: voting patterns 2014 (HT: Wikipedia)

That said, it is interesting to observe that there was a fall in turnout rate for the 2019 election as compared with the 2014 one: 2,410 of 3,858 registered voters [62.47%] as opposed to 2,747 of 3,866 [71.06%].

That is, while registered voters fell slightly [8 voters], the voter turnout fell by 337.

The total 2019 MCAP vote was 8,512 and the total, PDM – counting “seven plus one” – was 7,029. In 2014, MCAP had 8,193 votes and PDM had 11,591. The MCAP support grew by 319 and the PDM fell by 4,562. This election was more of a loss for the PDM than a triumph for MCAP.

However, as the margin of victory was one seat, for purposes of analysis, let us ponder the effect of just three hundred disaffected PDM supporters turning out and supporting their party. Where the ninth past the post candidate in the actual 2019 election [Hon Mr. Hogan] garnered 873 votes. (In 2014, Hon Mr. Willock was 9th, with 1,117 votes.)

In our hypothetical “+300 PDM” Election 2019, for instance, Hon Mr. Lewis (with + 300 votes) would have had 1,551 votes. Hon Mr. Romeo (the “plus one”), would have had 1,360 votes. The “seven plus one” PDM vote total would also have shifted to 9,429.

More importantly, Mr. Hixon would have had 1,162 votes, switching the election to the other side.

The new 9th past the post would – for the moment – be Hon Mr. Kirnon, at 970 votes. But, if we add 300 votes to Mr. Emile Duberry, he would now have 998 votes, matching Hon Deputy Premier Dr. Samuel Joseph, so Mr. Kirnon would have been defeated.

That is, the election would have likely swung the other way, 5:4 or perhaps even 6:3.

(Recall, the “+300 PDM” model is only a hypothetical estimate to help us understand the actual election’s outcome.)

An obvious lesson from this comparison, is that a party leadership “coup” six weeks before an election is not a well-advised electoral strategy. A slightly less obvious one, is that allowing hostile messaging to dominate for years on end is also not a well-advised electoral strategy, especially when one’s party is obviously trending towards splits. Doubtless, our politicians, pundits and public relations gurus have taken due note.

However, there is a further issue, one that carries such urgency that it needs to be put on the table now, for national discussion. Yes, even during the traditional new government honeymoon period.

For, in the next few weeks, we expect to see a UN Committee of 24 visit under the UN Charter, Article 73. However, skepticism on the relevance of the UN and similar skepticism on the UN Charter, Article 73 (thus the FCO commitment that the OT’s have a “first call” on the UK’s development budget) were a major part of MCAP’s messaging over the past several years and so much skepticism has become entrenched in much of popular opinion.

This is in a context where the UK is in a Brexit-dominated General Election. One, where newly incumbent Euro-skeptic Prime Minister the Hon Mr. Boris Johnson seems likely to handily win re-election. (Where, the previous UK Prime Minister, Hon Mrs. May, resigned several months before the election.)

Further to this, the UK press has shown for months, that Hon Mr. Johnson has pushed to reduce DfID to being a Department under FCO. For example, as a July 24, 2019 Guardian article reports, on becoming Prime Minister, Hon Mr. Boris Johnson:
. . . spoke of the “jostling sets of instincts in the human heart” – the instinct to earn money and look after your own family, set against that of looking after the poorest and neediest, and promoting the good of society as a whole. The Tory party has the “best instincts” to balance these desires, he said.

This balancing act will be tested soon after he moves into No 10 . . . . The UK’s £38bn defence budget is just 2.5 times greater than the £14bn aid budget.

After leaving his job as foreign secretary, Johnson spelled out his thinking over foreign aid, telling the Financial Times that if “Global Britain” is going to achieve its “full and massive potential” then we must bring back the Department for International Development (DfID) to the Foreign Office. “We can’t keep spending huge sums of British taxpayers’ money as though we were some independent Scandinavian NGO.”

The Guardian article adds, how:
In February, [Hon. Mr. Johnson] went further. Writing the foreword of a report by Bob Seely, Tory member of the foreign affairs select committee, and James Rogers, a strategist at the Henry Jackson Society thinktank, he suggested aid should “do more to serve the political and commercial interests” of Britain.

That report “called for the closure of DfID as a separate department and argued the UK should be free to define its aid spending, unconstrained by criteria set by external organisations.” It went on to assert that DfID’s purpose “should be expanded from poverty reduction to include ‘the nation’s overall strategic goals’,” and that “the Foreign Office should incorporate both DfID and the trade department.” Which, is precisely what has been put on the table.

While, the UK cannot unilaterally redefine what Development Aid is [the OECD defines that], it is clear that there will be strong pressure to reduce UK aid from the 0.7% of national income target level that has been met since 2013/14 and which is actually mandated by current UK law. And, mixing in trade and strategic goals is likely to raise questions on the quality of aid offered under such a reduced budget. (Perhaps, too, it may be advisable for the UK to ponder that timely aid that addresses root causes of conflict is a lot cheaper and far less risky than major wars are.)

What this means for us, is that the importance of the UN Charter as a cornerstone of International Law since 1945 has suddenly shot up as the UK moves towards Brexit. In that context, the Article 73 mandates that the UK is legally bound to “ensure [our political, social, educational and economic] advancement” and to “promote constructive measures of development” are of particular value.

Especially, where £30 million under the CIPREG programme and another £14.4 million for the sea port under the UKCIF are on the table. And where these sums are programmed into existing projects, so that attempts to re-open the negotiations may well carry significant risks of further delay or even loss of funding. (Let us recall, that for years, sections of the UK press have decried £400+ million in cumulative aid to Montserrat as a “fiasco” and worse.)

Posted in CARICOM, Columns, De Ole Dawg, Elections, Local, News, OECS, UK - Brexit0 Comments

Please Support The Montserrat Reporter

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

TMR print pages

Flow Internet Open Gifts

Notice – British American Insurace Company Ltd.

Newsletter

Archives

Bank of Montserrat – Scholarship Offer

FLOW - Back to School

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