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CARICOM Secretary General welcomes new Barbados PM to regional body

CARICOM Secretary General welcomes new Barbados PM to regional body

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Jun. 23, CMC    Secretary General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM),  Ambassador Irwin LaRocque has welcomed newly appointed Prime mInister of Barbados, Mia Mottley to the 15 member regional body.

On Friday, LaRocque,  met with the Prime Minister to update her as lead Head of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) and to discuss key agenda items for the upcoming Heads of Government Conference in Jamaica.

Prime Minister Mia Mottley

Congratulating the Prime Minister on her “resounding victory” at the May 24 General Election,  LaRocque said the region was at a very important juncture in its history and said that he was “looking forward to working with her very closely to furthering the regional agenda”.

In response, the Prime Minister  thanked the CARICOM Secretary General for his warm welcome and added that the Caribbean needed to be more competitive and to have strong regional jurisdictions if it was to secure prosperity, stressing that functional cooperation was important to achieving these developmental goals.

She noted that progress in the Caribbean was often constrained by the confines of regional space and promised that Barbados would continue to pursue regional integration and to advance the cause of the people of the Community.

Discussion also focused on having a Single Domestic Space, Contingent Rights, the Caribbean Court of Justice, Cross Border Relations, Regional Transportation and Telecommunications, Public Procurement, and Issues of Small States, among other items.

As a newly-elected Head of Government,  Mottley will deliver a keynote address at next month’s 39th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community, which gets under way in the western city of  Montego Bay from July 4 to 6.

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Ruling party elects new leader

Ruling party elects new leader

TORTOLA, British Virgin Islands, Jun. 25, CMC – Delegates from the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), on the weekend selected Education Minister Myron Walwyn to lead the party following a recent announcement by Premier Dr. Orlando Smith that he would not be seeking re-election to that position.

In the internal election, that was closed to the public, Walwyn defeated Health Minister Ronnie Skelton who was also vying for the post. 

Walwyn’s reported running mate, Marlon Penn, was also successful in his campaign to become party Vice President.

Penn went up against first-term legislator Melvin ‘Mitch’ Turnbull who is said to have been Skelton’s running mate.

According to reports, Deputy Premier Dr.  Kedrick Pickering, who was the party’s Vice President, did not seek re-election.

Meanwhile, the Premier has made it clear that while he did not seek re-election as NDP leader,    he will remain in representational politics .

During a press conference held last week, shortly after he announced his decision, Smith said  – ““I am not retiring, I am [just] not seeking the leadership.”

He told reporters that the time was ripe for a fresh NDP leader; noting he has been leading the party for the past 20 years.

Smith, 73, said he opted out of the race for NDP leader after ‘much thought and prayer’ and after discussions with family and colleagues.

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George Town in the Cayman Islands

Cayman Islands governor ‘bullied staff, had drunken rows and insisted a maid gave him a shirtless massage’

  • Anway Choudhury recalled after a string of complaints made against him by staff
  • Allegations include Cayman Island governor asking maid for shirtless massage
  • He is also accused of misbehaviour towards his wife, Momia, 16 years his junior 
Anwar Choudhury, 59, pictured with his wife Momina, appointed to the Caribbean post in March, has been suspended after a string of complaints.

Anwar Choudhury, 59, pictured with his wife Momina, appointed to the Caribbean post in March, has been suspended after a string of complaints.

The governor of the Cayman Islands has been recalled to Britain by the Foreign Office following allegations of bullying and shouting at staff, drunken rows and demanding a maid give him a shirtless massage.

Anwar Choudhury, 59, appointed to the Caribbean post in March, has been suspended after a string of complaints.

George Town in the Cayman Islands

Sources in Britain and the Caymans said that the complaints made against Choudhury relate to his treatment of domestic staff and office employees. 

He is alleged to have asked a maid to massage his shirtless back, a request she found inappropriate, though there is no suggestion of sexual impropriety.

Sources have said that he is also accused of misbehaviour towards his wife, Momina, 16 years his junior.

In addition it is claimed he had a drunken row with his elderly mother-in-law one night.

At his Government House mansion, it is claimed he shouted at and bullied staff. 

Choudhury also allegedly asked the maids to nanny his baby daughter, but they declined, saying their duties extended only to cleaning. 

A distinguished diplomat, Choudhury was suspended two weeks ago but until now the reasons for his recall were not known.

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Grenada’s new Parliament building officially opened

Grenada’s new Parliament building officially opened

ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada, Jun 21, CMC –   Grenada’s new Parliament building was officially opened on Thursday in a ceremony attended by representatives of funding governments, regional leaders, parliamentarians and the general public.

The opening follows the destruction of York House – the old Parliament building – by Hurricane Ivan in September 2004.

“The new parliament building is a symbol of the Grenadian people civic pride and political heritage and the UAE (United Arab Emirates) is honoured to have contributed to its construction,” said  consul general Majid Al Suwaide, who added that the   building is a symbol of the   close working relationship between the UAE and Grenada.

The UAE provided US$4.5 million to assist with the construction.

Speaking on behalf of the United Mexican States whose Government provided US$5 million towards the construction,

Ambassador Oscar Esparaja Vargas said that his Government was pleased to be associated with reinstating the building and described it as ‘the flagship” project of bilateral cooperation between both countries.

“Mexico is committed to accompanying Grenada in its many development efforts as we have proven through the many bilateral cooperation,” he said.

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell, who thanked the Governments who contributed towards the project, said that without their direct help, the structure would not have been a reality.

“They were true friends in words, and resolute in deed. They honoured their commitment to assist Grenada, and they did so against the backdrop of their own needs. They did so when others, with dated ties, did not, or were unable to, for different reasons. That demonstration of friendship is one we will cherish, forever,” he said.

Thanking regional and international friendly Governments the Prime Minister said that their moral support of Grenada over the years must be recognized.

“They know the importance of state buildings in our part of the hemisphere. They know what this means for the consolidation of our democracy and our independence, and they have never failed to lend their voices in advocating for the rebuilding of this important symbolic institution,” he said.

According to Infrastructure Minister Gregory Bowen, the new building cost  US$12.2 million, took 25 months to complete and created jobs for 200 persons during peak construction.

“This will be our new home, a landmark in many ways,” Bowen said.

The Parliamentary chamber is designed in the shape of a nutmeg pod with public sitting for 200 persons.

Regional leaders to attend the opening included, Prime Minister  Dr Keith Rowley of Trinidad and Tobago, Prime Minister  Dr Ralph Gonsalves of a S t Vincent and the Grenadines,  Prime Minister Allen Chastanet of Saint Lucia, and the Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Ambassador  Irwin La Rocque.

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IDB launches call for proposals from startups in the Caribbean

IDB launches call for proposals from startups in the Caribbean

 

WASHINGTON, Jun. 20,   CMC – The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has launched a call for proposals that will reward the most disruptive ventures in Latin America and the Caribbean that are using innovation to improve lives.

The Washington-based financial institution said the selected startups will participate in Demand Solutions Chile, which will take place on November 21 in Santiago, Chile.

Demand Solutions is the IDB’s flagship innovation event that brings together “the world’s most forward-thinking minds to share creative solutions to the development challenges in Latin America and the Caribbean,” the statement said.

In this edition, the IDB said startups can participate in two thematic areas.

In the first, they must provide solutions in four categories related to the cultural and creative industries: Design with social sense: sustainable fashion, smart fashion, urban art, wearable technology; and multimedia that improves lives: videogames, digital content, audiovisual content.

The other categories are: New technologies: 3D printing, blockchain, internet of things, artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics; and export of services to global markets: production and commercialization of cultural content, export of goods and creative services.

The IDB said the 10 most innovative startups in the creative industries will be selected to participate in Demand Solutions Chile with all expenses paid for one representative per startup.

The first place will receive financial support to continue with its development, the IDB said.

Additionally, the IDB said this edition of Demand Solutions will also reward five startups that provide solutions to water and sanitation challenges in the region.

Since 2009, the IDB said along with Fundación FEMSA it was awarded the Water and Sanitation Prize for Latin America and the Caribbean “to recognize and stimulate the most innovative solutions in the water, sanitation and solid waste sectors.”

The startups interested in participating in Demand Solutions must present a solution proposal to a development challenge before July 15, the IDB said.

It said the representatives must be over 18 years old.

Winners will be notified by mail in early September 2018.

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Regional leaders to attend opening of Grenada’s new parliament building

Regional leaders to attend opening of Grenada’s new parliament building

ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada, Jun. 20, CMC -Almost 14 years after it was destroyed by the category three Hurricane Ivan in 2004, the Houses of Parliament will have a new home with the official opening of a new parliament building on Thursday.

The event will be attended by regional leaders – Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, of Trinidad and Tobago , Prime Minister Dr.Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Caricom Secretary General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque .

Local diplomats are also scheduled to attend the ceremony.

Press Secretary Kisha Alexander-Grant said that other leaders and dignitaries are expected to attend the ceremony that is being held 100 days since the New National Party returned to office following the March 13th General Elections.

The new building which is located in Mt. Wheldale is built within close proximity to the residence of the late Prime Minister Maurice Bishop. The building was constructed  with funds from the Governments of Australia, Mexico  the United Arab Emirates and Grenada.

Representatives from the donor governments are also scheduled to witness the opening which takes the form of a joint sitting of the both the Lower and Upper Houses of Parliament.

The former Parliament building called York House that was  located on Church Street was destroyed by Hurricane Ivan in 2004.

Since the devastation, Parliamentary sessions were temporarily held at the Grenada Trade Center while the offices of Parliament are housed next door in a ministerial complex.

Designed by Caribbean Office of Caribbean Architecture, the EC$23 million  (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents) ,environmentally friendly building was built by Quinnco Design and Construction.

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Barbados PM wants to deepen cooperation with sub-regional group

Barbados PM wants to deepen cooperation with sub-regional group

By Ernie Seon

CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Jun. 19, CMC – The Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley, has signaled her intention to deepen political and economic cooperation with the nine nation Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

Prime Minister Mia Mottley

In her first address outside of Barbados since assuming office, Mottley told representatives of the 65th Meeting of the OECS Authority which began its working session here Tuesday, that her administration wanted mutually beneficial solutions to critical issues such as climate change, freedom of movement and transportation challenges.

She told the gathering which included leaders of all nine member OECS states, with the exception of Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit of  Dominica who was expected later Tuesday, of the  need to resolve climate change issues, pointing to the influx of sargassum seaweed as an opportunity for economic benefit, rather than treating it as a problem that affects our coast and tourism industry.

“We have had to confront it as you do across the rest of the region, but we believe that our best efforts are when they are cooperative and to that extent our ability to harvest the sargassum weed collectively and maximize what ever economic benefits we can get from it rather than treat it as a nuisance that affects our coasts and tourism industry, is the way in which we would like to pursue discussions.”

She said that freedom of movement was another pressing concern, and finding a way forward for the regional airline LIAT.

She said from her country’s perspective, one of the troubling concerns was the inability of persons who were in-transit in Barbados for more than two hours, to clear immigration.

“It makes no sense, because it hurts the extent to which those who visit our shores are capable of contributing to our economic activity in our country.

“To that extent prior to traveling here, I have asked what are the legal obstacles preventing the movement of people who are in-transit within our air and sea ports, who are being precluded from leaving the ports, but I am yet to receive an answer that makes sense,” she told the leaders.

“If you are at a point of entry for 6 or 8 hours there is no reason to be treated as a prisoner of war within the precincts of our region,” Motley insisted.

On the issue of inter-island transportation the Barbados leader said she looks forward to engaging with the OECS leaders, ” and particularly fellow shareholders and soon to be other shareholders in the context of regional carrier, Liat.”

She however noted that she would do so, cognizant of the fact that modalities  that were relevant decades ago cannot continue to be relevant as countries enter the third decade of the 21st Century.

Motley suggested that a review of government structures was absolutely critical if the region is to ensure the viability of an airline that serves as the lifeblood of this region.

“Similarly it is time that we stopped just talking about inter-island ferry transportation and get on with establishing this vital service.

“I am aware that unless we get to the stage where we can facilitate the movement of not just people, but vehicles and cargo we will not reap the full benefit of the space we have the honour to occupy.”

She explained to facilitate such an undertaking when it comes there needed to be mutual recognition of insurance, licenses, and the equal ability for the region to see how far it is prepared to go for mutual recognition of domestic incorporation, “so as we don’t impose on citizens the additional cost and time of having to go through these exercises again, simply to facilitate free movement across the region.”

Meanwhile,  Mottley and the heads of Governments of the OECS were also meeting Tuesday  in caucus for dialogue on better ways of collaboration between Barbados and the OECS.

The agenda for the 65th Meeting includes critical areas related to climate change among them the problem of sargassum where the OECS hopes to initiate a regional approach.

“We are going to be discussing ways in which the member states can work effectively together to do clean-ups of the beaches and areas affected by sargassum but more importantly how do we turn this problem into an opportunity,” said OECS Director General Dr. Didicus Jules told journalists Monday.

He said building resilience in the Caribbean is also high on the agenda in terms of, not just infrastructure but economic, social and community resilience.

A presentation is expected by the Caribbean Climate Smart Accelerator Group which has been assisting the Caribbean in becoming the first climate smart region. During the OECS meeting, the work programme of the OECS will also be under review.

St. Lucia’s Prime Minister Allan Chastanet will hand over to incoming chairman, Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.

The OECS is made up of seven full Member States, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts Nevis, St Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines; and three Associate Member States: the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla and Martinique, all of whom are expected to be represented at the summit.

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Premier not seeking re-election at upcoming party convention

Premier not seeking re-election at upcoming party convention

TORTOLA, British Virgin Islands, Jun. 19, CMC  – Premier Dr. Orlando Smith has announced that he will not be seeking re-election as leader of his National Democratic Party (NDP) at the upcoming convention on the weekend.

Dr Orlando Smith

Smith, 73,  who made the announcement in a broadcast late Monday, said he made the decision after ‘much thought and prayer’ and after discussions with family and colleagues.

“And so, when the NDP comes together in its upcoming Convention, I will not seek nor accept the nomination to lead the party into the next election,” the premier said.

“There is so much work left to do. With this decision, I will be free to dedicate 100 per cent of my time and attention to that task….while my journey as the Premier and leader of the territory will come to a close at the end of this government’s term in office, the mission that was launched so many years ago lives on.”

The decision made by the Premier means that the only confirmed contenders to succeed him as party leader are Education Minister Myron Walwyn and Health Minister Ronnie Skelton.

During this weekend’s convention candidates will also be contesting the offices of vice president, secretary, deputy secretary, treasurer, deputy treasurer, chaplain, chairman of the youth movement, and chairperson of the women’s association.

CMC/kb/2018

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Caribbean American Congresswoman outraged over separation of children from parents at US border

Caribbean American Congresswoman outraged over separation of children from parents at US border

By Nelson A. King

NEW YORK, Jun. 18,   CMC – Caribbean American Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke has joined intensified outrage in the United States over the Trump administration’s decision to separate migrant children from their parents at the US border. 

“There is no act lower than ripping innocent children from the arms of their mothers,” said Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, in an  interview with the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC), on Sunday.

Yvette D. Clarke

“We have hit an all-time low as a people and a country,” added the representative for the 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn. “It is one of the most inhumane, cruel acts that could ever be taken by the Trump administration.

“As a second generation American, the daughter of Jamaican immigrant parents,  I take these assaults on immigrant communities personally,” Clarke continued, stating that she has been “a staunch advocate for immigration rights, from fighting for a clean Dream Act, aggressively advocating to keep families together to keeping vulnerable children with their parents, and fighting the Trump administration on their revocation of DACA [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals] and attacks on Diversity Visas.”

In addressing what she described as “the racist, xenophobia of the Trump Administration,” Clarke said she has also advocated for the ASPIRE Act, a bipartisan bill to provide individuals who have received Temporary Protective Status (TPS), legal permanent residency.

“This administration has no bounds, even children don’t seem to matter,” the congresswoman said. “Therefore, I vow to continue to fight ferociously, along with my colleagues, against these grave injustices; and, we don’t plan to stop until justice prevails.”

Amid the profound outrage, US President Donald J. Trump on Saturday reiterated what political analysts and observers say is his erroneous claim that Democrats were responsible for his administration’s policy of separating migrant families arrested at the US border.

“Democrats can fix their forced family breakup at the Border by working with Republicans on new legislation, for a change!” said Trump in a twitter post on the weekend.

On Friday, the Trump administration announced that close to 2,000 children were separated from their migrant parents in a six-week period, concluding in May, as part of its “zero tolerance” policy on immigration.

In expressing outrage over the Trump administration’s new policy, Democrats have said that the separation of children from their parents at the US border is just of the incumbent administration’s making – that they had not enacted any law or rule in that regard.

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Investigation Commission wants to probe activities of former minister

Investigation Commission wants to probe activities of former minister

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Jun 16, CMC – The Integrity Commission says there are grounds to begin an investigation into the activities of former investment and trade minister, Asot Michael, who stepped down last month amid speculation that he was among Caribbean politicians who had received bribes from a British investor.

In a statement, the Integrity Commission said the investigation would fall under the Integrity in Public Life Act and the Prevention of Corruption Act, both enacted in 2004.

Asot Michael

Michael’s departure from the Cabinet in May was the second occasion within a seven-month period that he has had to forgo his ministerial position. Last October, he was arrested in London while on his way to a conference in France.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne subsequently removed him as the minister of tourism, economic development, investment and energy, but the 49-year-old rebounded to successfully contest the March 21 general election on behalf of the ruling Antigua and Barbuda labour Party (ABLP).

Michael, who was born in the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, has denied the accusation that unfolded in a British High Court in May in a matter involving British financier Peter Virdee, whose telephone conversations with his business partner, Dieter Trutschler, in 2016, had been recorded by German authorities.

According to the transcript of the document revealed in the High Court, Virdee alleges that Michael had asked him for two million dollars, as well as to buy a car for his mother.

But in his resignation letter to Prime Minister Browne, the Parliamentary Representative of St Peter’s, said he had become “aware that recent media reports, emerging from Court proceedings in the United Kingdom, to which I am not a party, have caused anxiety in some quarters of our society and are being used by opposition political elements to seek to discredit me and the Government.

“I emphasize that I am not a party to the Court proceedings in the United Kingdom which have been reported in the media, nor have I been charged with any wrong doing.  The media reports refer to recordings of conversations between persons other than myself, and I cannot be held responsible for their utterances”.

The Integrity Commission has acknowledged that it does not have the staff or the resources to mount the investigation into Michael noting that it has only one staff member who serves as the secretary to both the body and the Information Commissioner’s offices.

But the Integrity Commission chairman, Radford Hill said that the commission intends to investigate the matter and make a formal request to the government for additional resources.

In addition, the police would be asked to conduct, if necessary.

Hill said that while the commission’s interaction with the public has been limited so far, in short order the commissioners plan to launch a public awareness campaign on the body’s existence, it’s role and mandate.

The commission is also encouraging people to comply with the Integrity in Public Life Act and promises to aggressively enforce compliance in filing declarations and other matters within the confines of their limited resources.

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