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Prime Minister Theresa May greets Ireland’s Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in Downing Street (Photo Getty Images)

Leo Varadkar warns Brexit will bring UK ‘decades of economic decline’

Irish Taoiseach says the UK is struggling to get to grips with its loss of global status

Prime Minister Theresa May greets Ireland’s Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in Downing Street (Photo Getty Images)

Ireland’s leader dramatically stepped up the war of words with Westminster yesterday after he predicted the UK would fall into economic decline for decades post-Brexit.

Brexit is undermining 20 years of peace in Ireland, Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar says

In a blistering attack on the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar claimed the country was struggling to come to terms with its diminishing importance on the world stage.

And he warned it would be overtaken as an economic powerhouse first by its European neighbours, followed by the rising powers in Asia.

Irish history

Mr Varadkar pointed to Ireland’s own push for independence from the British Empire 100 years ago, which he described “as the wealthiest and most successful trading bloc in the world at the time”.

The economic case for Irish independence was “weak”, he said, adding it took Ireland 40 years to make economic progress, and he predicted similar problems for the UK post-Brexit.

In an interview with Irish radio station Newstalk, Mr Varadkar said: “A consequence of Brexit for Britain is that it will fall into relative economic decline for many decades, probably be overtaken by France again and slowly over time it’ll be overtaken by lots of countries in Asia.

A lorry passes a poster by calling for “No Border” between Ireland and Northern Ireland, in a post Brexit United the anti-brexit campaign group “Border communities against Brexit” in Jonesborough, Northern Ireland on March 25, 2019, as it crosses the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. – Keeping the Irish border free-flowing has proved to be the toughest issue to resolve in negotiating Britain’s exit from the European Union. The Brexit deal between London and Brussels — overwhelmingly rejected last week by British MPs — contains a so-called backstop provision ensuring that if all else fails, the border will remain open. (Photo by PAUL FAITH / AFP)PAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images

‘’One of the difficulties for Britain is they’re struggling to cope with the fact that as a country and an economy they’re not as important in the world as they used to be.”

The Irish premier pointed to growing populations and emerging economies in Asia, such as India, Korea and Vietnam, which were poised to overtake the UK economically.

And he added: “It’s inevitable and that’s why most European countries understand why we need to get together, stick together and integrate so we can preserve our way of life, our prosperity, our peace and security.

Sun setting on Britain

“Britain has never really fully accepted that in the way that France and Germany and Italy did after the war.”

Asked whether Brexit meant that “finally the sun was setting on the British Empire”, he replied: “Perhaps, but that’s their choice, it’s their decision. We have to respect the decisions they make.” Arch-Brexiteer Steve Baker resisted criticising the comments, stating: “I wish him well and I hope we find ways to flourish together because our success will be Ireland’s success.”

https://inews.co.uk/news/politics/boris-johnson-and-jeremy-hunt-spark-twitter-war-as-bbc-andrew-neil-interview-aired/

https://inews.co.uk/news/politics/government-faces-judicial-review-over-eu-citizens-denied-the-vote/

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, International, Local, Politics, Regional, UK - Brexit1 Comment

Prime Minster Gaston Browne speaking to CMC (CMC Photo)

Antigua PM advocates need for Caribbean bank to deal with corresponding banking

By Peter Richards

CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Jul 3, CMC – Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne Wednesday called for the establishment of a Caribbean bank that would allow the region to counteract the position of international banks regarding corresponding banking.

Caribbean countries have been arguing that the threat by banks in developed countries to withdraw correspondent banking services would exclude the region from the global finance and trading system with grave consequences for maintenance of financial stability, economic growth, remittance flows and poverty alleviation.

Prime Minster Gaston Browne speaking to CMC (CMC Photo)


Browne, who is leading the region’s response to the issue, told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that the region has been making “slow progress” on dealing with the matter.

“But at the same time there’s still a problem. The corresponding banks continue to take this policy of risk and return, so as far as they are concerned the banks in the OECS (Organistion of Eastern Caribbean States)  in particular are too small and they are in essence looking to bank larger banks within the region which then forces us to consolidate to have bigger banks.

There may even be the need for us to have a Caribbean bank, that is a bank that is owned by various indigenous banks in the Caribbean and one that could have branches in the US diaspora, UK diaspora (and) Canadian diaspora in order to provide services to the Caribbean in the diaspora.”

He said such an initiative would allow for the provision of corresponding banking in the region, especially the smaller ones.

“My understanding is that there is an informal threshold about a billions US dollars, so that generally speaking, banks that have less than a billion US dollars would almost be not bankable for corresponding banking”.

The Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister, who is here to attend the 40th meeting of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders, said the irony of the entire situation is that “most of our banks, have less than one billion US in assets.

“It has been a very difficult proposition for us. However we have decided to raise the ante and to increase our advocacy because corresponding banking in essence is a public global good so I cannot be looked upon exclusively from the standpoint of risk and return because in essence if we were to do that then you would be literally de-bank certain regions and certain countries”.

Browne said the region would continue to bring greater awareness to the various stakeholders including regulators in the United States, Europe and Canada to some extent “so that they could understand it is not just about risk and return but it is really about a fundamental right.

“Every single human being should have the right to move money and to receive money. If you can’t move money and you can’t receive that money then it means that you can’t purchase goods and you can’t get paid for the services that you provide”.

In-coming CARICOM chairman and host Prime Minister Allen Chastanet, said he welcomed the idea of establishing a single Caribbean bank, adding “we have also come to the conclusion we now need to reduce that risk”.

He said a former governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) had indicated a solution would be to have all of the indigenous banks in the region to form one bank.

He said whilst this may be a difficult proposition “what we have been talking about is to form one compliance authority,” adding “that’s the change.

“The world did not understand what compliance was before, it’s the fastest growing industry in the whole world in terms of compliance because as you ask one question it compels you to ask many more questions.

“In my humble opinion, what has happened is that we have become so intimidated by the loss of corresponding banking that our own compliance agencies have become excessive and in some times it is now reducing the size of the amount of money coming down in and out of our region.

“So by creating one compliance department that is properly manned and the indigenous banks would pay for those services on a use basis that may be a way to solve the problem …and I think Prime Minister Browne is 100 per cent right if in fact that is not moving fast enough”.

He said another way of looking at the problem of corresponding banking is to follow the Mexico model  and work with the country “and use their banks to assist us”,

Prime Minister Browne said he believes the region should also consider getting together and purchase Scotiabank operations in the region.

“I thought that was an excellent opportunity for the OECS counties in particular to come together and purchase the branches,” he said noting that it would have required at least 98 million US dollars for the nine branches “with perhaps about three billion UIS dollars in assets

“I thought that was an excellent opportunity for the region which would have helped us to have one major bank that would have branches in the diaspora to provide banking services to Caribbean people in the diaspora,” Browne said.

Last November, the Trinidad-based Republic Financial Holdings Limited (RFHL) announced that it was seeking to acquire Scotiabank operations in several Caribbean countries.

Antigua and Barbuda and Guyana had initially expressed reservations about the proposed acquisition, with St. John’s indicating that it would not be issuing a vesting order to facilitate the move.

The RFHL statement said that the banks being acquired are located in Guyana, St. Maarten, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

It said that the purchase price is US$123 million, which represents US$25 million consideration for total shareholding of Scotiabank Anguilla Limited; and a premium of US$98 million over net asset value for operations in the remaining eight countries.

Antigua and Barbuda has said that it wants assurances that local banks will be given priority to purchase Scotiabank’s operations on the island and that local persons’ investments and savings will be protected.

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STATEMENT TO THE UN C24 COMMITTEE IN NEW YORK 2019[40976]_Page_7

Statement to UN C24 Committee – Premier Donaldson Romeo

Posted in Government Notices, International, Local, Politics, Regional0 Comments

Farmer granted bail on charge of threatening Prime Minister Skerrit

Farmer granted bail on charge of threatening Prime Minister Skerrit

by staff writer

ROSEAU, Dominica, Jul 4, CMC – A magistrate Thursday granted EC$2,500 (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents) bail to a farmer, who is alleged to have threatened the life Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit.

Magistrate Pearl Williams also disagreed with a suggestion by defence attorney Tyani Behanzin that the charge against Leslie Martin be dismissed because Prime Minister Skerrit was not present in the court when the charge was read out to the accused.

Martin is alleged to have said to another person on June 20, this year that it “is not you I want, Is Skerrit I want to kill”. The statement surfaced on social media last week

Martin pleaded not guilty when he appeared in court and has been told he should not make any contact with Prime Minister Skerrit to discuss the matter and should also not change his address before informing the police in the town of Portsmouth, north of here.

Posted in Court, Crime, Local, News, OECS, Politics, Regional0 Comments

logo-retina-544x180 Cayman Compass

Leaders unite against ‘modern colonialism’

By James Whittaker – June 27, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

Flow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Carrs Bay port

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

Part 6/2019 (Contribution)

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

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

Please, sir, I want some more”

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

‘Please, sir, I want some more.’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


[1]Oliver Twist, Ch. 2.

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

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

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

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

BVI government to improve border security

BVI government to improve border security

by STAFF WRITER

TORTOLA, British Virgin Islands, Jun 3 CMC – Over US$6-million will be spent to improve border security across this British Overseas territory.

Immigration Minister Vincent Wheatley  says the move shows that the current administration is serious  about advancing the territory.

Vincent Wheatley

“For as long as I can recall, there have been complaints and heavy criticism levied against Labour and Immigration departments.That is why Cabinet recently approved the sum of $6.4 million for the purchase of a new state-of-the-art Immigration border management system.”

This comes several months after Governor Augustus announced that travellers arriving and departing the BVI will be subject to heightened security measures to include the implementation of an Advance Passenger Information (API) System.

Meanwhile, Wheatley said he intends to give support to the departments of Labour and Immigration by introducing policies and legislation to help reform and improve them.

Concerning plans for the online amalgamation of the Labour and Immigration departments, Wheatley, who is also Labour Minister, says this has already started.

“It’s currently undergoing testing. We are using a test group of 32 different businesses – which will soon be open to the wider public,” adding that the undertaking is scheduled to be ready for the broader public by July.

“It is only the beginning. Later on this month, we will be launching a few more initiatives within that department starting with a name change,” he said.

Posted in CARICOM, Local, News, OECS, Politics, Regional, Security, Technology, Travel0 Comments

DECLAR~1

DECLARATION ADOPTED AT THE CONCLUSION OF THE SIXTH MEETING OF MINISTERS OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF CARICOM AND CUBA

 

 

  Date: 2019-Jun-Fri Web: www.caricom.org | Tel: 592-222-0001 | Email: communications@caricom.org  

We, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Republic of Cuba, having met in Georgetown, Guyana, on June 14th, 2019, on the occasion of the Sixth CARICOM-Cuba Ministerial Meeting.

Recalling the Summit Declarations of Havana 2002, Bridgetown 2005, Santiago de Cuba 2008, Port of Spain 2011, Havana 2014 and St. Mary’s 2017; as well as the periodic meetings of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of CARICOM and Cuba; and highlighting their indisputable contribution to the advancement of our political links and cooperation, materialized in the high level reached by the relations between our nations;

Recognizing the need to collectively address the challenges to sustainable development, including our vulnerabilities as Caribbean countries, especially in the economic and environmental areas, and in particular as Small Island and low-lying coastal Developing States, in order to build just, inclusive and equitable societies;

Concerned by the loss of life and the extensive economic and infrastructure damage caused by the passage of frequent and intensive hurricanes in the Caribbean region, and the negative effect of natural disasters on our development processes;

Affirming that the Caribbean is an inseparable part of Our America, and highlighting the role of CARICOM in the regional integration process;

Reaffirming the importance of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) as a mechanism for political consultation and promotion of the unity and integration of our region;

Recalling the significance to the Caribbean countries of taking advantage of the potential offered by the regional and sub-regional mechanisms such as CELAC, ACS, ALBA-TCP, PETROCARIBE as well as international mechanisms such as BRICS;

Determined to continue to strengthen the CARICOM-Cuba mechanism, based on deep historical roots and founded on solidarity, cooperation, and complementarity:

1. Reiterate that the unity and integration of our Caribbean Region is based on unrestricted respect and full adhesion to the Purposes and Principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter and International Law, in particular the respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-interference in the internal affairs of States, the peaceful settlement of disputes and the prohibition of the threat or use of force. Also, reaffirm our commitment to the protection and promotion of all human rights for all;

2. Emphasize the importance of defending regional unity to preserve the peace and stability of our countries;

3. Reaffirm our solidarity with the Republic of Haiti, for which we feel a historic debt of gratitude, and a commitment to continue fostering cooperation with that nation, in accordance with the priorities defined by its government and in full respect of its sovereignty;

4. Call on the international community, in its relations with the countries of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), to endorse the tenets of the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, signed in Havana in January 2014, and that recognizes, among others, the inalienable right of every State to choose its political, economic, social and cultural system as an essential condition to ensure peaceful coexistence among nations.

5. Reject the imposition of unilateral coercive measures and, in that context, call for an immediate and unconditional end to the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the government of the United States of America against Cuba and, especially, to its extraterritorial nature and the financial persecution of Cuban transactions, whose severity has increased. In this regard, we denounce the application of the new measures under Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, legislation which flagrantly violates International Law and undermines the sovereignty and interests of third parties, announced by the US government which strengthens the US blockade against Cuba, including the application of laws and measures of extra-territorial nature that are contrary to international law. Furthermore, we reiterate our endorsement of the principles of international law as well as our strongly-held view that economic development and stability in the Caribbean region contribute to international peace and security;

6. Agree to continue implementing the results of the Summits of Heads of State and Government of CARICOM and the Republic of Cuba and the Meetings of Ministers of Foreign Affairs as a platform for closer political consultation and coordination in other areas;

7. Recognize the cooperation between CARICOM and Cuba in areas such as health, human resource development, construction, sports, and disaster risk reduction and mitigation has effectively contributed to the development and well-being of our peoples. In this regard, we reaffirm our commitment to continue promoting the implementation of projects to improve air and sea ports, infrastructure and connectivity between our countries and broaden our economic and trade relations through the implementation of the Revised Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement between CARICOM and Cuba;

8. Commit to complete the required internal legal procedures with a view to giving effect to the Second Protocol to the Agreement on Trade and Economic Cooperation, which will contribute to the strengthening of trade relations;

9. Reiterate the importance of trade for the Region’s sustainable development and reaffirm the necessity of appropriate policy space and special and differential treatment for small vulnerable economies like those in the Caribbean. In that context, we welcome the hosting by Barbados of UNCTAD XV in October 2020, which will be the first time that an UNCTAD quadrennial conference has been held in a Caribbean country;

10. Reaffirm the need to continue strengthening cooperation and exchange of experiences and good practices in the area of integrated disaster risk management in the Caribbean, aiming to support the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 and all its goals by the Caribbean countries; and thus to promote the substantial reduction of disaster risk and loss of life, livelihood and health, as well as economic, physical, social, cultural and environmental assets of people, enterprises, communities and countries;

11. Commit to continue cooperation in the areas of food security, nutrition and agricultural development including women empowerment and youth involvement, as key pillars in the fight against poverty, including actions for implementing the CELAC Plan for Food and Nutrition Security and the Eradication of Hunger 2025 (SAN-CELAC);

12. Reiterate our commitment to the protection and conservation of the environment and the sustainable use of natural resources in the region, particularly in the Caribbean Sea. Support its designation by the United Nations as a “Special Area in the Context of Sustainable Development” and support the mandate of the ACS Caribbean Sea Commission, to promote its preservation and sustainable use. In that regard, strongly condemn the continued use of the Caribbean Sea for transit and transshipment of nuclear material and toxic waste, and urge countries that produce and transport them to urgently implement appropriate measures to end such activities;

13. Reaffirm the commitment to promote regional energy integration as a relevant element for sustainable development and to advance the diversification of the energy matrix of our countries, oriented towards the use of clean, renewable and sustainable energy sources, and universal access to energy services that contribute to the well-being of our peoples; we also welcome the fruitful exchanges held between the Caribbean Center for Renewable Energy and Energetic Efficiency and Cuba;

14. Emphasize the urgent and global priority of climate change and its negative implications for our societies, ecosystems and economies. In this regard, commit to strengthening cooperation within CARICOM and with other international organizations and agencies to foster greater adaptation and mitigation, strengthen resilience and reduce our vulnerability, particularly Small Island and low-lying coastal Developing States;

15. Commit ourselves to continue promoting joint actions and exchanges of experience and information on security, as well as on prevention and confrontation of transnational organized crime, the worldwide drug problem, corruption, human trafficking and other new threats related to cyber security among others;

16. Recognize the promotion of sustainable tourism as one of the keys to economic growth in the Caribbean region, as identified in the Strategic Plan for the Caribbean Community 2015-2019, and agree to strengthen cooperation in this area, including multi-destination tourism;

17. Emphasize the importance of culture as a significant instrument in the advancement of sustainable economic development, unity, peace, education and mutual understanding between our people, and support a successful celebration of CARIFESTA XIV, to take place in Trinidad and Tobago on August 16 – 25, 2019;

18. Reaffirm our will to strengthen South-South cooperation as an expression of solidarity among our countries for the promotion of bilateral and regional programmes as well as triangular cooperation for development, taking into account the development priorities of our countries;

19. Agree to celebrate the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of the establishment of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) on 24 July 2019, recognizing the role it continues to play in advancing integration and sustainable development of the Greater Caribbean, through active collaboration in the focused areas of disaster risk reduction, sustainable tourism including multi-destination, trade, sustainable development and protection of the Caribbean Sea and transportation;

20. Reaffirm that the preservation and consolidation of CELAC as a regional forum for dialogue and political coordination and as an international political actor is one of our priorities. In that context, we consider it to be fundamental to continue strengthening regional integration through political dialogue, cooperation and increased trade among the countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. In that regard, we reaffirm the importance of Caribbean countries’ active participation within CELAC and we recognize the role played by successive Chairs of Conference of CARICOM within the CELAC Quartet;

21. Acknowledge and support the effort deployed by CARICOM countries and its Pro Tempore President, alongside Mexico and Uruguay through the Montevideo Mechanism for respectful dialogue in Venezuela, guided by the principles of non-interference and non-intervention in the internal affairs of states, prohibition of the threat and use of force, respect for sovereignty, adherence to the rule of law, respect for the constitutional framework and democracy, and reiterating the right of people to self–determination;

22. Express grave concern over the inclusion of CARICOM Member States in the lists of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions by the European Union which has negative effects on the economies of Small Island and low-lying coastal Developing States which have implemented recognized international norms and have proven their willingness to cooperate and dialogue in order to find solutions;

23. Also express deep concern and rejection of the progressive decline in correspondent banking relations with developing countries, particularly CARICOM Member States, due to de-risking actions by some of the major international banking corporations, which threaten the financial stability of the affected countries and limits their efforts to achieve development and socio-economic growth;

24. Reiterate the call to review and modify the current “graduation” criteria for Official Development Assistance so as to adequately reflect the reality and specific needs of Highly-Indebted Middle Income Countries, particularly Caribbean States;

25. Emphasize the importance of reparation and compensation for the damages caused by slavery in the Caribbean as an act of justice and, in this regard, support the work of the CARICOM Reparations commission;

26. Express our thanks to the Government and People of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana for their warm welcome, hospitality and support in organizing the Sixth CARICOM-Cuba Ministerial Meeting;

27. Decide to hold the Seventh CARICOM-Cuba Summit in Cuba, in 2020.

Declaration Adopted At The Conclusion Of The Sixth Meeting Of Ministers Of Foreign Affairs Of CARICCARICOM and Cuba Ministers and delegates and CARICOM Secretary-General pose for a photo after the opening of the Meeting (Photo via DPI)

Adopted at the Sixth Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of CARICOM and Cuba on 14th June 2019, in Georgetown, Guyana.

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

CCJ to hand down rulings in two sets of cases from Guyana

CCJ to hand down rulings in two sets of cases from Guyana

by staff writer

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Jun 12, CMC – The Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) says it will on Tuesday deliver judgements in two sets of cases from Guyana that could have implications for the political environment in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country.

The CCJ, which is Guyana’s highest court, said Wednesday that its first judgement will “determine whether the appointment, or the process followed in the appointment, of Guyana’s Elections Commission (GECOM) Chairman breached the Constitution”.

President David Granger had appointed retired justice James Patterson as GECOM chairman following the resignation of Dr. Steve Surujbally, in November 2016. Surujbally stepped down from office at the end of February 2017.

Last year, Acting Chief Justice Roxanne George-Wiltshire dismissed an application by a senior member of the main opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) challenging Granger’s decision to appoint a chairman from outside the lists provided to him by the Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo.

PPP executive Secretary, Zulfikar Mustapha, had called on the High Court to declare that the appointment of Patterson violated the constitution and is “accordingly unlawful, illegal, unconstitutional, null, void and of no effect”.

The opposition party had also claimed that Justice Patterson is not constitutionally qualified to be appointed GECOM chairman and wanted the High Court to grant an order “rescinding, revoking, cancelling and setting aside the appointment”.

The CCJ said that its second judgement on Tuesday will “determine three consolidated cases arising from last December’s motion of no confidence in the government.

“One of the main issues in that case was whether 33 or 34 votes were required to carry the motion given that the membership of the National Assembly totalled 65 members. Another issue in dispute was whether one of the members of the National Assembly who voted in favour of the motion was ineligible so to vote because he was disqualified from membership of the National Assembly as a result of his citizenship of Canada,” it said.

Jagdeo had challenged the ruling of the Court of Appeal in his country that invalidated a motion of no confidence that was passed in the National Assembly in December 21, last year.

When the matters came before the High Court in Guyana in January, it ruled that only 33 votes were required. However, on appeal to the Court of Appeal, the three-member panel by a 2-1 majority held that 34 votes were required.

Charrandass Persaud, who was then a government legislator voted in support of the motion in the National Assembly, ensuring that the coalition administration lost its one-seat majority in the 65-member legislative body.

The Guyana government had argued in the appeal that Persaud was ineligible to vote because he held dual citizenship.

The CCJ said that it will begin delivering the rulings at 10.00 am (local time) on Tuesday.

Posted in CARICOM, Court, Elections, International, Local, News, Politics, Regional0 Comments

FOUR SCORE PLUS

FOUR SCORE PLUS

By Howard Fergus

Howard Fergus


(For DRV Frank Edwards)

You spent a good time at the crease

and piled up valuable runs for Montserrat

in the real estate economy,

where we made millions

to the applause of the pavilion;

and you helped to build a local bank

to store them in

in seasons of inclement weather. 

You made valuable runs in parliament also,

gliding the ball skillfully through slips

and silly mistakes for four;

and after twenty-eight innings,

we still wanted more, but short of breath,

you got run out

after you had given the game heart and soul,

pulling the island out of the hole

with a captain innings,

and frankly, written your name

in gold, in the Montserratian Hall of fame.

We hail your entry into the pavilion,

the final time, lifting up your bat,

lifting up your bat in a sign of victory,

hoping to meet you beyond that emerald sea.

Posted in Local, News, Poems, Politics, Regional0 Comments

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