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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

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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

RBC-News

RBC announces sale of Eastern Caribbean banking operations

December 12, 2019 (Toronto, Canada)Royal Bank of Canada (RY on TSX and NYSE) today announced it has entered into definitive agreements to sell all banking operations in the Eastern Caribbean to a consortium of indigenous banks within the region. The transaction is subject to regulatory approval and other customary closing conditions,  and is expected to be finalized in the coming months.

“Consistent with our strategy of being a competitive leader in the markets where we operate, RBC is always evaluating opportunities for our business. Earlier this year, we were approached by a consortium of indigenous banks with their proposal to acquire all RBC Eastern Caribbean operations,” said Rob Johnston, Head, RBC Caribbean Banking. “After a review of our operations and strategy, we determined this opportunity was a good decision for the long-term future success of RBC Caribbean, and also, that it aligned with our vision to help our clients thrive and communities prosper,” he said.  

The sale encompasses the branches of Royal Bank of Canada in Antigua, Dominica, Montserrat, St. Lucia, and St. Kitts and Nevis, as well as regional businesses operating under RBC Royal Bank Holdings (EC) Limited in Nevis, Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Collectively, these operations are referred to as “RBC Eastern Caribbean”. The consortium of five financial entities purchasing includes: 1st National Bank of St. Lucia, Antigua Commercial Bank Ltd., National Bank of Dominica Ltd., the Bank of Montserrat Ltd. and Bank of Nevis Ltd.

Johnathan Johannes, Managing Director, 1st National Bank of St. Lucia, shared, “We formed the consortium for the express purpose of expanding the scale of the locally-owned financial entities in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union.  This transaction gives us the size and scale to play a more active role in the development of our respective countries. We see this transaction as the first step in achieving even greater synergies, efficiencies, and cross-territory marketing opportunities.”

“RBC has operated in the Caribbean for more than 100 years – longer than we have been in many parts of Canada. We remain committed to the future of the Caribbean and to a vision of digital innovation that transcends traditional services,” said Johnson. “This transaction will allow us to realign and focus our strategy on Caribbean markets where we can achieve that vision most successfully.”

“Self-determination is the highest level of empowerment – and the indigenous banks acquiring this business will now have an increased opportunity to influence the development of their communities,” said Johnston.  

Johannes added, “And speaking on behalf of the local banks, we embrace and eagerly anticipate that opportunity.”

The consortium was advised by PwC (JA), led by Wilfred Baghaloo, who added: “This transaction demonstrates that Caribbean countries and businesses have the capacity and capability to  come together when the circumstances are right.”

Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. RBC will release its first-quarter 2020 results and host an earnings conference call on February 21, 2020.

ABOUT RBC IN THE CARIBBEAN

With more than 100 years of dedicated service to the region, RBC has maintained a presence in 17 countries, with 52 branches and over 3,200 employees serving more than one million clients. As one of the Caribbean’s leading diversified financial services companies, RBC provides personal and commercial banking, wealth management, corporate and investment banking, insurance and trust and asset management services to a wide range of clients, including individuals, small businesses, general commercial entities, regional and multi-national corporations, and governments. For more information, please visit rbc.com/caribbean.

ABOUT RBC

Royal Bank of Canada is a global financial institution with a purpose-driven, principles-led approach to delivering leading performance. Our success comes from the 85,000+ employees who bring our vision, values, and strategy to life so we can help our clients thrive and communities prosper. As Canada’s biggest bank, and one of the largest in the world based on market capitalization, we have a diversified business model with a focus on innovation and providing exceptional experiences to our 17 million clients in Canada, the U.S. and 34 other countries. Learn more at rbc.com.

We are proud to support a broad range of community initiatives through donations, community investments, and employee volunteer activities. See how at https://www.rbc.com/community-social-impact/index.html

Caution Regarding Forward-Looking Statements

From time to time, we make written or oral forward-looking statements within the meaning of certain securities laws, including the “safe harbour” provisions of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and any applicable Canadian securities legislation. We may make forward-looking statements in this press release, in other filings with Canadian regulators or the SEC, in other reports to shareholders, and in other communications. The forward-looking information contained in this press release is presented for the purpose of assisting the holders of our securities and financial analysts in understanding our financial position and results of operations, as well as our financial performance objectives, vision and strategic goals, and may not be appropriate for other purposes. Forward-looking statements are typically identified by words such as “believe”, “expect”, “foresee”, “forecast”, “anticipate”, “intend”, “estimate”, “goal”, “plan” and “project” and similar expressions of future or conditional verbs such as “will”, “may”, “should”, “could” or “would”.

By their very nature, forward-looking statements require us to make assumptions and are subject to inherent risks and uncertainties, which give rise to the possibility that our predictions, forecasts, projections, expectations or conclusions will not prove to be accurate, that our assumptions may not be correct and that our financial performance objectives, vision, and strategic goals will not be achieved. We caution readers not to place undue reliance on these statements as a number of risk factors could cause our actual results to differ materially from the expectations expressed in such forward-looking statements. These factors – many of which are beyond our control and the effects of which can be difficult to predict – include: credit, market, liquidity and funding, insurance, operational, regulatory compliance, strategic, reputation, legal and regulatory environment, competitive and systemic risks and other risks discussed in the risk sections of our annual report for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2019 (the 2019 Annual Report); including information technology and cyber risk, privacy, data, and third party related risk, geopolitical uncertainty, Canadian housing, and household indebtedness, regulatory changes, digital disruption and innovation, climate change, the business and economic conditions in the geographic regions in which we operate, the effects of changes in government fiscal, monetary and other policies, tax risk and transparency, and environmental and social risk.

We caution that the foregoing list of risk factors is not exhaustive and other factors could also adversely affect our results. When relying on our forward-looking statements to make decisions with respect to us, investors and others should carefully consider the foregoing factors and other uncertainties and potential events. Material economic assumptions underlying the forward looking-statements contained in this press release are set out in the Economic, market and regulatory review and outlook section and for each business segment under the Strategic priorities and Outlook headings in our 2019 Annual Report.

Except as required by law, we do not undertake to update any forward-looking statement, whether written or oral, that may be made from time to time by us or on our behalf. Additional information about these and other factors can be found in the risk sections of our 2019 Annual Report.

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

Prime Minister Skerrit sworn into office

Prime Minister Skerrit sworn into office

by Peter Richards

ROSEAU, Dominica, Dec 7, CMC – Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit was sworn into office for a fourth consecutive term on Saturday, mere hours after leading the ruling Dominica Labour Party to a sweeping general elections victory.

But even as he was being sworn in, the leader of the main opposition United Workers Party (UWP), Lennox Linton, was hinting at “irregularities” in the polls that saw his party’s seat count in the 21-member Parliament reduced from six to four, according to the preliminary results.

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit being sworn into office by President Charles Savarin (CMC Photo)

“We should never elevate skulduggery to a virtue by congratulating those who succeed by dishonest ways. The 2019 general election in Dominica was not free, it was not fair, it was rigged, it was stolen, plain and simple,” Linton said in a Facebook page post, urging followers and supporters to join him later on Saturday night when he addresses them.

But in a speech after he was sworn into office, Prime Minister Skerrit extended a hand to Linton, urging him to get together for the benefit of the country even while saying that he believes the “external forces” that sought to derail Friday’s general election did not treat Linton right.

“I have never seen so much external interest in our campaign,” Skerrit said, saying that he is hoping that now that the electorate had spoken quite forcefully that they would now channel their interest into rebuilding Dominica.

He reminded Linton that the DLP, which according to the preliminary figures had 17 of the 21 seats,  had secured both the seats and the popular votes.

“I think the external people did not deal Mr. Linton right, they used him,” Skerrit said, noting that Linton instead of focusing on his campaign was being used “to carry out their plans”.

Skerrit, who led the DLP into a fifth consecutive term, said that he had sympathy for Linton because as a legislator, he has never had to sit in Opposition.

“I do not envy him. I never had the opportunity of being in opposition, people have told me it is not nice,” Skerrit said.

He had earlier thanked the voters in the northern village of Vielle Case, whom he has been representing since 2000, adding that the Dominica Constitution makes it quite clear that you could only become Prime Minister by being an elected member of Parliament.

He said the election showed that Dominica had become a “more mature nation, mature people” given that the “world was watching us and I think we have confounded many who thought our political system would have descended into chaos”.

He insisted that “no one can contest” the validity of the elections and that within the first 100 days of his new administration, the issue of electoral reform would be a priority.

But Skerrit maintained that Dominica has always had “free and fair elections” and that Dominicans both here and abroad would soon have an opportunity to engage themselves in the electoral reform process.

He said also that the government would consider establishing a think tank of people both here and in the diaspora that provide guidance on socio-economic plans and examine policies “more objectively”.

Skerrit said that his new Cabinet would be sworn in on December 17.

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Dominica Labour Party wins general election

By Peter Richards

ROSEAU, Dominica, Dec 7, CMC – The ruling Dominica Labour Party (DLP) increased its majority in the 21-member House of Assembly by two seats after it won Friday’s general election, according to the preliminary results released by the Electoral Commission on Saturday.

It said that the DLP, which won its fifth consecutive term in government, won 17 of the 21 seats while the main opposition United Workers Party (UWP) saw its seat allocation declined to four from six in the previous legislature.

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, 47, who also became the first head of government to win a fourth consecutive term in office, comfortably retained the Vielle Case seat, north of here, which he has been representing in Parliament since 2000.

Skerrit polled 1,105 votes to comfortably brush aside the UWP’s newcomer Clement Marcellin, who received 228 votes.

Skerrit’s wife, Melissa Popone Skerrit, now joins the wives of the prime ministers of Antigua and Barbuda and Jamaica, who have all successfully contested general elections for the first time.

She won the Roseau Central seat securing 1,056 votes as against 866 for the UWP’s Glenroy Cuffy.

The UWP held on to the Roseau North constituency, where Danny Lugay held off a challenge from former UWP member, Joseph Isaac, who following the 2014 general election switched to the DLP. But the party was not successful in retaining the Roseau South seat, where its former deputy leader, Joshua Francis was trounced by newcomer Shakira Lockhart by 2,214 to 1,915 votes.

Opposition Leader Lennox Linton, who retained the Marigot constituency, polled 728 votes to stave off a challenge from newcomer Gregory Reviere, a former national calypso monarch, who polled 423 votes.

The UWP had contested the election complaining of the need for electoral reform and in his broadcast to the nation soon after claiming victory, Prime Minister Skerrit said the issue will be among the first priorities of his new administration.

“He said that it is important to move beyond the legal and other controversies that marred the general election and begin the process of reform that satisfies the national interest.

“Having reflected on this issue, it is my intention to invite a renowned Caribbean jurist to lead a National Commission on Electoral Reform.

“The work of that Commission, added to all the previous consultancy and election reports from various international organisations, together with the decision of the Courts, will inform the shape of Dominica’s electoral reform,” Skerrit said.

He said public hearings will be held throughout the country and all Dominicans will be able to appear before the Commission and give their views.

“Provisions will be made for anonymous submissions as well as for an open discussion forum on social media sites,” he added.

Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Chairman, St. Lucia’s Prime Minister Allen Chastanet has sent a congratulatory message Skerrit on the election that had been monitored by several regional and international organisations, including CARICOM, the Organisation of American States and the Commonwealth.

Chastanet described the victory as “resounding,” adding “the people of Dominica demonstrated their confidence in the policies and leadership of you and your party by returning you for yet another term of office.

“The people have spoken and the results must be accepted in a manner that ensures peace and calm in the country. I look forward to working with the re-elected Government of Dominica in seeking to ensure the goal of a climate-resilient country and region is achieved as we continue to pursue our quest for sustainable development.”

Dominica Election Results

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DOMINICA-ELECTIONS-Roman Catholic Church condemns verbal attacks on Bishop and Cardinal

DOMINICA-ELECTIONS-Roman Catholic Church condemns verbal attacks on Bishop and Cardinal

By Peter Richards

ROSEAU, Dominica, Dec 4, CMC – The Roman Catholic Church Wednesday, condemned the verbal attack on Bishop Gabriel Malzaire and Cardinal Kelvin Felix even as supporters of the main opposition United Workers Party (UWP) continued their fiery protest mainly in the northern section of Dominica ahead of Friday’s general election.

“We, the Catholic Clergy of the Diocese of Roseau consider it an act of disgrace and disrespect not only to head of the Catholic Church in Dominica but to the clergy and the lay faithful as well,” the Church said in a statement, condemning the verbal attack on the two religious officials, who were on their way to the airport.

Cardinal Kelvin Felix

“While we recognize the dissatisfaction and passion associated with the issue of electoral reform and political positions in general, we believe that there are more humane and civil methods of expressing concerns and resolving conflicts,” it said, adding that Bishop Malzaire and Cardinal Felix were “subjected to insults and embarrassing questions”.

The protesters have been calling for electoral reform including the issuance of picture identification cards, and a cleansing of the electoral lost and in the statement, the Roman Catholic Church said that

It had spoken on “numerous occasions” about electoral reform.

It recalled a statement made by Bishop Malzaire in his New Year’s Day homily in which he said “of concern to many here in Dominica, especially during the past days is the issue of electoral reform.

“It is a long-standing issue which is impacting and affecting our society.  It is imperative therefore that those responsible, move with some alacrity to see that all is put in place for the appearance of free and fair General Elections, which are due this year.  Brothers and sisters, we are duty-bound to do all in our power to maintain a just and peaceful society,” Bishop Malzire said then.

The statement said that more recently, the head of the Catholic Church made reference to the Code of Conduct prepared by the Dominica Christian Council and the Association of Evangelical Churches, reminding the population “our duty as clergy is to recognize that our basic obligation is to promote unity in our communities,” and “to refrain from saying or doing anything likely to be interpreted as partisan politics”.

Meanwhile, soldiers attached to the Barbados-based Regional Security System (RSS) have arrived here to assist in maintaining law and order.

But Thomas Letang, a member of the Electoral Reform Group here, told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that the presence of the RSS members would not solve the issue. Because they can’t be here forever.

“If people believe that the way you solve the problems in respective countries is by bringing guys in uniform to really get people scared that itself has to be revisited. What you want is to look at the cause of the problem and to address that problem.

“I am saying what is happening in Dominica now, if the government had listened to people and had done something about electoral reform there would have been no need to bring any regional security force here to do anything,” he said, taking also a swipe at the regional integration movement, CARICOM.

“I always say to myself what it is that these guys discuss when they meet at this table,” he said, noting that “while Dominicans were making noise for electoral reform, CARICOM said nothing,” he added.

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, who is seeking an unprecedented fourth consecutive term in office, has criticised the UWP and called on its leader, Lennox Linton, to publicly condemn the acts of violence that have so marred the campaign for the elections.

Skerrit is leading the Dominica Labour Party (DLP)  and he told party supporters on Tuesday night that the protests are part of the opposition strategy to disrupt the polls.

“They can try what they want, they can do what they want, they can jump high, they can jump low, there will be elections in Dominica on December 6.”

The United States in a statement on Wednesday said that the reports of political violence in Dominica in recent weeks “are incongruent with the history of stable parliamentary democracy in the Eastern Caribbean.

“Free, fair, and transparent elections are hallmarks of any good democracy and an indication of good governance and leadership.  Equally so, the conduct of peaceful campaigns, rallies, and demonstrations beforehand and the acceptance of the will of the people after a fair vote are intrinsic parts of democracy,” Washington said in a statement issued by its Embassy in Barbados.

The Electoral Commission said it is prepared for the elections on Friday and the Press and Public Education Officer, Elias Dupuis, told CMC that 74, 895 persons are eligible to cast ballots at the 255 polling stations across the country.

He dismissed reports that the Commission had been unable to cleanse the list as called for by the opposition parties saying “with regards to our laws, for any registered elector, it guarantees them the right remain registered until their name is deleted because they would have violated four specific provisions, one of which is the unfortunate case of death.

“Another significant one is the five year limit (in that) you have to be out of Dominica. I understand that much of the contention has been that particular five-year issue but as far as the Electoral Office is concerned we do have to respect the right of any duly registered voter whose name exists on the voters’ list on an election day to be given the right to cast their ballot.

“We are going to ensure that we keep to the law with regards to that and we want to be respectful of anyone’s right to cast their ballot to exercise their franchise,” he said, adding that the laws were created to enfranchise people and not necessarily to disenfranchise people”.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, International, News, OECS, Politics, Regional, Religion0 Comments

CARICOM Special Rapporteur wants more access for Persons with Disabilities

CARICOM Special Rapporteur wants more access for Persons with Disabilities

by staff writer

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Dec 3, CMC – the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Special Rapporteur on Disability, Dr. Floyd Morris, Tuesday reiterated a call for access for Persons with Disabilities as the region joined the global community in observing International Day of Disabled Persons.

Morris, who is also the Director of the University of the West Indies (UWI) Centre for Disabilities, said: “if persons with disabilities are to be brought in the mainstream of Caribbean societies the various stakeholders must create greater access to all aspects of Caribbean life for these vulnerable individuals”.

In his message to mark the global event being observed under the theme “The future is accessible,” Morris cited public facilities, public transportation, educational institutions, health care facilities, community centers, sidewalks, theatres, sports complexes, workplaces and other such facilities that must be made accessible for persons with disabilities.

Meanwhile, a 2019 Report of a project to establish a Regional Disability Index, has indicated that while “it is evident that some work is being done to advance the disability agenda, it is not sufficient and strategic enough to radically transform the lives of persons with disabilities in the region”.

According to the Report, countries within the Region must ensure that their programme of work to realise the 2030 agenda for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), for example, include issues relating to persons with disabilities.

The report reiterated that all countries in the Caribbean need to enact legislation to protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities as stipulated by the Convention on the Rights of the Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), (CRPD) and amplified in the Declaration of Petion Ville of 2013”.

With respect to legislation, the report indicates the scorecard to be a mixed one ranging from descriptions such as “some countries having done good work implementing legislative measure” to descriptions which included “fair” or “poor.”

The report noted that the 2013 Declaration of Petion Ville is an important roadmap that has been developed by policy-makers, technocrats and persons with disabilities in the Caribbean to drive the disability agenda. To this end, it called for its adoption and use by all countries to guide their implementation of programmes and policies for persons with disabilities.

According to the World Bank, disability is the result of the interaction between people with different levels of functioning and an environment that does not take these differences into account. In other words, people with physical, sensory or mental limitations are often disabled, not because of a diagnosable condition, but because they are denied access to education, labour markets, and public services.

It said exclusion leads to poverty and, in a vicious circle, poverty leads to more disability by increasing people’s vulnerability to malnutrition, disease, and unsafe living and working conditions.

Statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO) indicate that of the more than one billion persons with disabilities living in the world, more than 800 million or approximately 80 percent reside in developing countries.

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

Skerritt-and

CARICOM mounts election observation mission to Dominica

P M Roosevelt Skerritt and UWP Leader Lennox Linton

The Caribbean Community will mount a CARICOM Election Observation Mission to monitor the general elections which will be held in the Commonwealth of Dominica on Friday, Dec. 6.

The mission will be headed by Josephine Tamai, Chief Elections Officer, Department of Elections and Boundaries of Belize. Tamai has served as Chief of Mission as well as Deputy Chief of Missions CARICOM Election Observer Missions. She most recently served as a member of the CARICOM Joint Electoral Reform Mission to the Commonwealth of Dominica in August 2019.

The other members of the Mission include experts in Electoral Management and Administration from Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Suriname. The Mission will be supported by Jhonson Alexandre and Helen Marshall of the Foreign and Community Relations Directorate of the CARICOM Secretariat.

Members of the Mission and the CARICOM Secretariat Support Staff began arriving in Dominica on Dec. 2 and will depart by Dec. 9.

The CARICOM Election Observation Mission will meet with the electoral officials, leaders of political parties and other stakeholders of the Commonwealth of Dominica. On the day of the elections, the Mission will monitor the electoral process including the opening of the Poll, the voting process, the closing of the Poll and the counting of the ballots.

The Election Observation Mission will issue a Preliminary Statement based on its observations and findings. A Report of the General Elections will be subsequently prepared and submitted to the Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community. For CARICOM, election observation serves as a platform to support existing democratic traditions within the Caribbean Community as part of its wider policy of supporting democracy.

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

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