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Theresa May Delays Brexit Vote as Negotiations Get Really, Really Messy

The Slatest

By Joshua Keating Dec 10, 2018

British Prime Minister Theresa May leaves No. 10 Downing Street on Dec. 5.
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

“Quite frankly a bit of a shambles” was the understated response from one of Theresa May’s coalition partners to the news Monday that the prime minister seeks to delay a vote on her Brexit deal, which had been planned for tomorrow.

The delay reflects May’s acknowledgement that she doesn’t have the votes for the controversial deal she negotiated with Brussels, which would keep Britain in a customs union, at least for a time, with the EU, in order to avoid the imposition of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The deal is opposed not only by the opposition Labour and Scottish National parties but also by her coalition partners, the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party and many hard-line Brexiteer members of her own Conservative Party. Both Labour and the Scottish National Party have suggested that a motion of no confidence in May’s government could be put forward this week.

According to the Guardian, “the vote could take place next week or even be delayed until early January, although this would allow less time for the ensuing Brexit legislation to be passed through parliament before 29 March,” when Britain is due to leave the EU, deal or no. Time is running short, and the delay raises the likelihood of a “no-deal” Brexit in which Britain would revert to trading with Europe under WTO rules, a prospect that experts have warned would have dire consequences for the British economy. The pound fell 0.5 percent against the dollar Monday in response to the news.

The delay will give May some more time to lobby reluctant lawmakers, and she has also suggested that the so-called “Northern Ireland backstop” could be modified.

An EU spokesperson insisted, however, that the deal on the table is “the best and only deal possible” and would not be renegotiated. Given the knottiness of the Irish border problem, it’s not quite clear what an alternative arrangement would even be.

But the important thing to remember in the Calvinball world of Brexit is that no one actually knows what the rules are because no one has ever done this before. The EU has already compromised more than many expected in agreeing to the customs union arrangement. After insisting for months that “Brexit means Brexit,” May also agreed to a much closer future economic relationship between Britain and the EU than was anticipated. Both sides also seem to be making quiet preparations for postponing Brexit past March, after long insisting that the deadline was nonnegotiable.

At the moment, a host of scenarios—including a no-deal Brexit, some alternative compromise on the Irish question, a delayed Brexit, a new “people’s vote” referendum on the deal, and an ouster of May leading to who knows what—all seem entirely plausible.

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Romeo 5

Highlighting FAC Inquiry Evidence

Following the JMC meetings OTs’ ministers give oral evidence oftheir submissionss with discussions

Premier Donaldson Romeo of Montserrat was the last in line during the Foreign Affairs Committee- Oral evidence: Future of the UK Overseas Territories, HC 1464 delivered on Wednesday, 5 December, 2018, Ordered by the House of Commons to be published on the said date.

The Members of the UK Government present: Tom Tugendhat(Chair); Ian Austin; Mike Gapes; Ian Murray; Priti Patel; Andrew Rosindell; and Royston Smith.

The witnesses for the occasion were four, from the Overseas Territories. They were: Hon. Victor F.Banks, Chief Minister of Anguilla, Hon. Miss Teslyn Barkman, Member of the Falkland Islands Assembly, Hon. Sharlene Robinson, Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands, and Hon. Donaldson Romeo, Premier of Montserrat, as they were seated opposite the chair from left to right. (see photo taken from the video which may be seen on line at http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/foreign-affairs-committee/the-future-of-the-uk-overseas-territories/oral/93391.html)

Hon Sharlene Robinson, Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands

There was a second round of oral evidence was taken immediately from the other OTs present for that purpose. They were: Councilor Leslie Jaques OBE, Government of Pitcairn Islands, Councilor Derek Thomas,Member of the Legislative Assembly, Mr. Ian Lavarello, Chief Islander of Tristan da Cunha, and Councilor Keturah George, Ascension Island Council.

After he had set the tone for the sitting, Chair Tugendhat began, “…we are going to ask for two-minute statements,” requesting that the witnesses “stick to time,” “We will then get on to questions, so a lot of things may come out in questioning afterwards.” And so it did, he having asked for brevity as he said they, “…have submitted all this in written evidence, for which we are hugely grateful.”

Chief Minister Banks got off to a solid start even having to ask for and obtain time for two more points which he  punched in. He had begun saying he would, “be rather general with my comments and speak to the issue of the relationship – what it means to be British as an Overseas Territory —what it means to be British as an Overseas Territory…we have been in a relationship with the United Kingdom since 1650, and we need to know where we go from here:”

He elaborated very briefly, hitting on some common issues which throughout became speaking points: “ We are not foreign; neither are we members of the Commonwealth, so we should have a different interface with the UK that is based on mutual respect…I think it is important when we make a criticism always to make some suggestions about how best to advance our concerns. I would like us to consider a more appropriate Department to interface with Anguilla, such as the Cabinet Office, as we are neither a foreign state nor a member of the Commonwealth…I would like a Minister to be appointed with the British Overseas Territories as their sole brief.

Reclassify the Overseas Territories, separating them and introducing a new rank of countries of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland for the more viable and advanced British Overseas Territories…Introduce a citizens’ charter between HM Gand the citizens of the British Overseas Territories to enhance transparency and introduce accountability for the execution of the duty of care they are owed by Her Majesty’s Government, whose actions affect their lives and livelihoods. Revise the role of Governor and nominate candidates from a wider base of skills…”

His last two points: “Ensure that there is improved institutional memory and training about the Overseas Territories within HMG and Parliament, and increase awareness among the UK public as a whole, possibly through education. Finally, bindingly commit to the development of the British Overseas Territories to ensure equal life chances and standards of living for every British citizen residing in any British nation in accordance with global Britain.”

No surprise that the next ‘witness’ Miss Barkman from the Falkland Islands spoke with a different context eventually highlighting some common issues shared with the other OTs, but showing that they were more advanced in their relationship with the UK.

“It is important that the constitutional relationship between the UK Government and its Overseas Territories is routinely reviewed. It is vital that the relationship reflects the present realities in both the UK and its Overseas Territories. In the light of that, and in the light of Brexit in particular and other recent events, we welcome this inquiry,” she began.

She noted a status that was different to say, Montserrat and Anguilla: “As the Falkland Islands have developed to become internally self-governing and economically self-sufficient, our relationship with the UK has transformedfrom one of dependence to one that supports mutual benefit and low contingentliability risk to the UK taxpayer…”

FIG has a track record of fiscal responsibility and transparency…proactive in respect to resource management, human rights and good governance…” At times, however,” she said, they have not felt that this is reflected. Rather than being seen as partners, proactively a part or engaged—we are in some ways more managed by officials in the FCO.”

Along lines of many other OTs, Miss Barkman cited, “Our constitution should not be set in stone—it is a living  document…review this document to ensure it is fit for purpose.”

She developed to a close as she shared that in March 2013, 99.8% of Falkland islanders, on a turnout of92%—I am reiterating the point, voted to remain a self-governing Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom. That remains the settled and very powerful voice of Falkland Islanders.

She closed on a common point for some others also, as she also referenced Brexit. “Obviously, we have a powerful potential area of risk with regard to trade, but we have seen that engagement from UK Ministers and senior officials, with officials and regional and local politicians abroad, has been very strong—engaging on a first-person basis. We would like to see that kind of closer direct contact encouraged and reiterated.”

Next, Hon. Premier Sharlene Cartwright Robinson, who introduced that she was accompanied by the Turks and Caicos Islands deputy Premier. She was more brief than the others but later delved more heavily into the discussions.

She immediately addressed the TCI issue of what she termed the regression of their Constitution of several years now: “We have had a rather tumultuous relationship in the last decade or so with the United Kingdom Government. Not too long ago, we had the unfortunate experience of having our country’s constitution suspended and replaced by a regressive constitution so near our40-year anniversary of ministerial government, our concern over that time has always been that there is no genuineness on the part of HMG for progression, for a progressive constitution or for allowing elected Governments to do more.”

She added that they had recently, we submitted some constitutional proposals, “We expect to engage with the UK on that;” noting their appreciation for, “the challenges that gave rise in the UK’s mind to the suspension of our constitution, the constitution always allowed for built-in oversight by the Governor who, equally, must be held accountable for any blame or breaches.”

She noted “the rising cost of the SIPT trial is difficult for us to bear—we are approaching $100 million, which is for the SIPT trial alone, not the civil recovery programme.”

Like so many of the other OTs, she made the recurring point: “We would like to see the involvement of UK Overseas Territories in the selection of Governors, in particular looking at their backgrounds. Some of the backgrounds have literally been at odds with the diplomatic rule of government, of Governors towards local governments. We would also like to see on the review a Governor who is always in-territory during his term, while he is performing his remit under the constitution. That is important, because we do not have responsibility for external and internal security, so the police operate pretty much in silos. As elected members of Government, people look to us, but we have no recourse as such in the strategic direction—not necessarily the operational direction—of the police force.”

She addressed what, again like others BVI e.g. “We are concerned about the constitutional over-reach that transpired in the House not long ago—the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill.”

“We are a democratically elected Parliament, and we expect to be treated with much more respect in terms of looking at things that can impact negatively on our economy and way of life.”

“Finally,” she said, joining the chorus, “… we are of course concerned, as are all other Overseas Territories, with the post-Brexit loss of funding that we will experience following removal or withdrawal from the EU,” continuing to point out the benefits, pointing out needs, “as small islands, we are also prone to the worst impact of climate change, so we would expect as well that there will be some level of funding for us in the Caribbean—Overseas Territories in particular, which have just recently suffered in the storm—to rebuild, and to rebuild resiliently, looking at climate change action throughout all the Overseas Territories and at disaster risk reduction.”

Premier Romeo was last to present in the group, and of course as expected from the Montserrat scenario, though in other ways similar to others, his main concern, lamented the lack of British forward moving interest to bring Montserrat back to where it was preceding the volcanic crisis which began 23 years ago. “… Our main concern is with the way in which aid has been delivered to Montserrat over the past 23years.”

He cited: “The UK Government have said that, acting in accordance with article 73 of the UN charter, the UK has an international and legally binding responsibility to meet the urgent basic and development needs of the British Overseas Territories. To meet those legal responsibilities, the British Government’s own policies state that Montserrat is eligible for overseas development aid as a British Overseas Territory, has first call on Majesty’s $12 billion aid budget.”

“I have therefore been puzzled by the dealings of the British Government with Montserratians throughout this volcanic crisis and beyond.”

He then asked several rhetorical questions: “Why, at the beginning of the crisis, did the British Government consistently withhold from Montserratians adequate aid for basic necessities such as food and decent shelter?”

He recalled,“Some 20 years ago Her Majesty’s coroner, in his comments on the deaths of 18persons caused by the volcano, described Her Majesty’s Government’s delivery of aid to Montserrat as “unimaginative, grudging and tardy”.” “Why is that still painfully relevant?” he asked. “And if you finally accept to invest in us rather than penny-pinching us into everlasting dependency, shall we not rise to the challenge?”

(See his (Premier Romeo) full presentation in this issue)

Like the other witnesses and the UK members present the Premier joined, supporting in the deliveries on the many points which for the most part dealt with the different ways, the discussion, “the time has come to modernise the relationship completely and treat all territories equally as British…”

Q185 Andrew Rosindell: How can it be effective for you as British citizens in British territories to be lumped into the Foreign and Commonwealth Office when you are not foreign and you are also not members in your own right of the Commonwealth? You are appearing in front of a Foreign Affairs Select Committee in a Parliament in which you have no say and no influence on anything, where laws can be imposed upon you without any democratic accountability. Do you not agree with me that the time has come to modernise the relationship completely and treat all territories equally as British?

Following are excerptfrom thee interesting discussions and exchanges which followed –

Q167 Priti Patel: … Could you please, in the few minutes you have, extol the virtues, if there are some, of being a British Overseas Territory, whether or not you consider your territory to be part of the United Kingdom? As we will unpack during this evidence session, where do you think the areas off blockage exist on the very points you have already made in your representations? Premier, why don’t we start with you?

Donaldson Romeo: I would say the policies declaredb y British Government and already in place are perfect; in Fact, some refer to Montserrat particularly. However, Majesty’s Government are not implementing the policies as they state them. Having first call on British aid is atremendous advantage, but it does not really happen in real life.

Donaldson Romeo: (Later) I support Andrew Rosindell’s keen desire to see Montserrat and other Overseas Territories better represented. I think there needs to be some action in that direction, such as a special committee that focuses on us, allows us to present questions to Parliament and the like.I really think something needs to happen. However, please realise thatpoliticians on your end make decisions for your constituents and your voters,and we are forced to live with them, although it affects us politically.

Q187 Andrew Rosindell: I have not mentioned that today. I am talking about which Department you belong under. You mentioned Liverpudlian, Scottish and English earlier. The Falkland Islands and all the Overseas Territories may be British, but in so many ways they are not treated the same as the rest of the British family.

Barkman: It is not what you can do for us; it is what we can do for ourselves a bit more.

Q188 Chair:I was very interested to hear you say you were happy under the Foreign Office.

Barkman: It is the best—

Chair: It is the best fit.

Barkman: It is the most suitable Department, but the door is a bit wider open.

Donaldson Romeo: The negative impact of the name is not the name itself; it is how you are treated. (Here he refers to a call – That is all the more reason for the British Government to be kind in implementing the policies that favour giving adequate and timely aid to Montserrat in particular…

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Begin a ‘global Britain’ and mutual respect for the OTs

It was surprising when we discovered that there was more than the usual number of people who engaged in discussing and opining over matters relating to the UK Foreign Affairs Committee Inquiry into the future of the UK Government relationship with the Overseas Territories (OTs).

We discovered that as we have been saying or as the saying goes, put in many ways, ‘you cannot live successfully today and plan your future, without knowing and understanding your past.” There were those who took the position that as Overseas Territories of Britain Montserrat (in particular) is in no position to do anything but accept whatever the UK Govt throws its way. The retort to that was, isn’t there an obligation to do ‘otherwise’ and doesn’t the OTs have the right to claim?

Immediately after that discourse, there was another view referring to the Donaldson Romeo Government position taken in his oral evidence to the FAC inquiry in the Committee hearing on Wednesday. (See Statement published in this issue –transcript of what the Premier said). The position taken there was agreement with the Premier, who said that his main concern was, “the way in which aid has been delivered to Montserrat over the past 23 years.”

Each of the witnesses (there were two sessions) with different groups, with our premier sharing seats with Falkland Islands, Anguilla and Turks and Caicos Islands in the first session on December 5, 2018.

Each witness had two minutes to present as Tom Tugendhat (Chair) had put it, “we are going to ask for two-minute statements from each of you to set out your position,” pointing out that their written evidence is already in hand, and,  “We will then get on to questions, so a lot of things may come out in questioning (and discussions) afterwards, which they did.

See front story for a summary of the evidence. It became obvious that the main thrust of the OT governments’ was, concern that there needs to be as Andrew Rosindell concludes: “How can it be effective for you as British citizens in British territories to be lumped into the Foreign and Commonwealth Office when you are not foreign and you are also not members in your own right of the Commonwealth? You are appearing in front of a Foreign Affairs Select Committee in a Parliament in which you have no say and no influence on anything, where laws can be imposed upon you without any democratic accountability. Do you not agree with me that the time has come to modernise the relationship completely and treat all territories equally as British?

There was the observation that the groupings were deliberate, and we agree, as the other session which included Pitcairn, St. Helena, Tristan da Cunha and Ascension Island, all with different systems of government. But, the arguments and concerns were all similar, to include not a challenge like we’ve critical of the governors powers, but concerns about their selection and how they function.

Again Andrew Rosindell encouraged and supported the discussion, adding or rather highlighting that most territories have in some cases by referendum determined to remain in whatever status links them to Britain. That is stated here that way, in view of the following argument summarised again by Rosindell.

“All of you have, as expected, shown your absolute determination to be British, to stay British, and to be part of what we now call the British family, but there is no such thing, constitutionally, as the British family. Do you consider yourselves to be part of the United Kingdom?”

Generally, as it came out in the attitude of some of the members, it is agreed that the problem with the UK, that though called British citizens, OTs citizens are treated as strangers and foreigners. The time is here and the discussion must be focused and taken forward.

Many of the submissions have proposed ways how the relationship can be improved whether it be representation by the OTs in the UK Parliament being able to vote for parliamentarians, representatives in the UK, but as Anguilla Chief Minister Banks puts it: “We are not foreign;neither are we members of the Commonwealth, so we should have a different interface with the UK that is based on mutual respect.”

“Mutual respect,” is a phrase that resonated throughout all the submissions. Banks saw this coming through,“increased awareness among the UK public as a whole, possibly through education.” And, the UK to bindingly commit to the development of the British Overseas Territories to ensure equal life chances and standards of living for every British citizen residing in any British nation in accordance with ‘global Britain.’

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

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

 November 25, 2018 |

Beckles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

£200m from slave trade

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

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

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

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

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

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There is no such thing as “Governor’s powers”

November 23, 2018

In our last couple or more editorials we have commented or drawn attention to what we can expect to see or hear what have been submitted in response to the Foreign Affairs Committee Inquiry as to “consider(ing) the resilience of the OTs, how effectively the FCO manages its responsibilities towards them, and how it envisages their future.”

The FCO explained: “As our place in the world changes, we need to think about the effect on them and whether the structure of our relationships still work.”

The Inquiry invoked all kinds of responses, submitted in different ways in terms of the approach, many straying away from the considerations of the Inquiry.

Here, several discussion sessions were set up where the public was invited to participate to air their thoughts, there were radio programs included.

At least fifteen submissions were made from Montserrat, government, organisations, and individuals here and the diaspora.

We have been concerned about what the contents and the quality, as well as the relevance of the submissions. Not surprisingly, several dealt with the subject of what, as we’ve noted before refer erroneously to the “governor’s powers”.

Let us state right here that there is just too much ignorance surrounding he topic, if not merely misunderstanding, misinterpretation, but perhaps a sensible presentative discussion on the issue might suffice. There is not that much to take into consideration to clear the eyes at the front of the minds. The most powerful person in an OT is the Premier, Chief Minister, Chief Islander, whatever the title.

We note that Montserrat is among the latest to have agreed a Constitution nine years ago from the UK. It remains disputed by many as having been rushed and in some areas inappropriate for Montserrat. One of the areas that occupied the discussions up to the UK submitting the final document for acceptance, was the matter of what was termed “governor’s powers”.

We noted that since the passage of the Constitution 2010 we heard no comment ascribed directly to governor’s powers from the first premier, while several others official and otherwise continued to refer to it, as it formed part of many of the discussions on the Inquiry.

A look at most of the OTs’ Constitutional Orders from the UK reveal the matter appearing in varying text, but mostly one does not find the reference strong in terms of powers, rather often as ‘responsibilities’ in the Montserrat Constitution. It follows that their submissions, if at all, dealt with the matter almost just in passing, while calling for a different approach to the management of the topic.

One submission refraining from speaking to the matter directly, instead like most of the more informed submissions, referred to: “the ultimate power of the administrative authority, the British government, to impose legislation by imperial decree on the OTs.”

Sadly, we saw the office of the Legislative Assembly, referencing, “…the heavy-handed imposition of laws from Great Britain combined with the excessively wide range of powers enjoyed by Governors.” There were at least two others who made similar references in even more direct terms.

 

There was also with one really disappointing, maybe not surprising entry which was brief, but spoke exclusively to the topic. Yet another, again not surprising, but one we thought would know better, who was not as direct, but referred to the policy of recruiting governors from the FCO staff – and the arrangement for selecting Governors.

To his credit we noted that the Premier’s submission excluded any such discussion, and so it is hoped that while we don’t claim to like the tone of it, that when he presents orally later, that he does not take on board any such discussion, but some of the submissive thoughts from some of the other responses, that address meaningfully the request from the FAC.

On another level, just like organisations such as FOTBOT (Friends of the British Overseas Territories), the OTs especially that there were many common responses should jointly make an exclusive submission as they have, and have had many established forums through which they can do this, knowing that some should and will enjoy special attention in the end.

That was always the case as it had been expressed time and time before. Ask Alan Duncan who is now very well associated with the Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO) from whence came the Inquiry.

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Former prime minister critical of Caribbean Development Bank

Former prime minister critical of Caribbean Development Bank

CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Nov 21, CMC – Former prime minister Dr. Kenny Anthony says the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has lost sight of the reasons for its existence as he criticised the present management of the region’s premier lending institution.

Anthony, a  former finance minister said the bank has been doing a disservice to St. Lucia and the region, telling legislators “I say unashamedly that I do not support the current management of the Caribbean Development Bank.

Dr. Kenny Anthony (CMC Photo)

“I have hinted that before in this Parliament,” Anthony said, adding “because I do not believe that the current management of the Caribbean Development Bank is living to what the founding fathers of the bank and in particular, our own Sir Arthur Lewis, pronounced for that bank.

“The Caribbean Development Bank has departed from that and the Caribbean Development Bank has lost sight that the reason for its existence is to facilitate the development of small Islands,” he said Tuesday, as he contributed to a government motion authorising the Minister for Finance to borrow from the CDB an amount not exceeding US$4.9 million.

The loan consists of a Special Funds Resources in the amount of US$2.4 million and an Ordinary Capital Resources estimated at US$2.4 million for the purpose of financing the services of consultants to conduct Implementation (LABs) workshops and to set up a Performance Management and Delivery Unit.

“That is in the founding document. That is what Sir Arthur preached and that is what Sir Arthur when he was president of the bank, attempted to do. The bank has long departed, Mr. Speaker, from that founding principle.”

Anthony said there’s nothing that the CDB loves more than consultants, adding that every single project must have consultants.

“It is an industry and the Caribbean Development Bank, in particular, has a fascination for Canadian consultants,” he said, adding “it is not often you get them appointing regional consultants except when it suits their purposes for example assessments of poverty reduction, they may use a firm out of Trinidad.

“So the moment the Caribbean Development Bank sees a proposal for consultants it latches on to it …and by the time they are finished they have their consultants all lined up,” Anthony said, as he called on the government to share its experience on a project in Bexon, southeast of here.

He recalled the problems his administration endured when the CDB was involved in the drainage project in Bexon, saying “the CDB had promised to make the allocation of funds available, they insisted that there be consultants..

“Year in year out consultants, waiting for reports, when they finish with the reports, they insisted they had to engage the public and people of the community to tell them what they were proposing. Then when that was finished months passed, nothing happening, elections came and of course I don’t know exactly where the project is…”Anthony said.

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Opposition blames government over possible international blacklisting

Opposition blames government over possible international blacklisting

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Nov 21, CMC – Opposition Leader Kamla Persad Bissessar Wednesday accused the Trinidad and Tobago government of “failing to take its international commitments seriously” as the opposition distanced itself from any blame regarding the island being blacklisted for its failure to pass legislation to comply with multi-lateral tax regulations

“The Rowley government is responsible for Trinidad and Tobago being blacklisted and they came in haste to the Parliament to push through a problematic, sloppy Bill which will not even be enough to get the nation removed from the blacklist,” Persad Bissessar said in a lengthy statement.

Kamla Persad Bissessar

She said that the opposition is maintaining its position that the Income Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2018 “lacks clarity, is ambiguous and flawed” and that she had received correspondence from Finance Minister Colm Imbert on the matter.

“The Opposition has received a letter from the Minister of Finance and is currently reviewing its contents and will respond in due course,” she said.

In the November 12 letter, Imbert said “it remains imperative that Trinidad and Tobago achieve compliance with these global regimes,” warning that “failure to comply with have increasingly catastrophic consequences for all citizens of our country”

Imbert said that Trinidad and Tobago remains “the only country rated as non-compliant by the Global Forum,” recalling that the other stakeholders including the Bankers Association of Trinidad and Tobago (BATT) and the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Commerce calling for opposition support “for this critical legislation as continued non-compliance has dire consequences  for the economy of our country”.

He said he was calling on the Opposition to “urgently furnish us with its written response with immediacy”.

The government requires a special majority in Parliament to pass the legislation and Persad Bissessar has said that the Rowley administration should consider sending it to a Joint Select Committee of Parliament “to properly ventilate the issues therein.

Meanwhile, BATT president, Nigel Baptiste has confirmed statements by the government that local banks have started to lose correspondent international partnerships because of the country’s failure to comply with multi-lateral tax regulations.

“There is no denying that all of the local banks have been facing increased due diligence from our correspondent banks so I can endorse the Attorney General’s comments,” Baptiste told Newsday newspaper.

He said the pressure is most definitely there and that the BATT has released its own statement emphasising the importance of passing this legislation.

“It is not the sum total of what needs to be done but it is a step in the right direction,” he said.

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Government to pay back pay to public servants before year end

Government to pay back pay to public servants before year end

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Nov 21, CMC – The Antigua and Barbuda government says it has acquired funds that will allow it to pay the arrears owed to public servants before yearend.

Public servants earlier this month received partial payment and Prime Minister Gaston Browne told Parliament Tuesday that he is hoping his administration will meet its financial obligations to the workers by year-end.

Government Chief of Staff, Lionel ‘Max’ Hurst, said the funds had been obtained from several sources and will be paid back from revenue

“It is almost 40 million dollars (One EC dollar=US$0.37cents) and I can assure the government did not have that kind of money laying around in the Treasury,” he said on a radio programme here, adding “it came from several sources and I will leave that to the Finance Minister to reveal that during the budget which is coming up next month”.

Earlier this month, the President of the Antigua and Barbuda Public Service Association, Joan Peters said all workers entitled to receive government retroactive pay are also to receive benefits, even those who are no longer in the service.

“Even those who would have died, but, are entitled to retroactive pay, are to be paid for their service. What is happening now is that only the active government workers are being paid. Once the active members are handled those who are no longer in the service but qualify will be taken care of,” Peters said.

She said persons who worked for at least one year during the period of January 2003 to December 2017 is entitled.

Workers were paid one month of the current gross basic salary in lieu of outstanding collective bargaining contracts for the period January 2003 to December 31, 2017. They are also to be paid one month of the current gross basic salary in lieu of outstanding back pay for persons employed in the public service between June 2000 to December 2004.

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Judge Orders White House to Restore CNN Reporter Acosta

Judge Orders White House to Restore CNN Reporter Acosta’s Credentials

Judge Orders White House to Restore CNN Reporter Acosta's Credentials
CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta speaks outside U.S. District Court in Washington, DC, on Friday. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

Friday, 16 November 2018

A federal judge ordered the Trump administration on Friday to immediately return the White House press credentials of CNN reporter Jim Acosta, saying Acosta suffered “irreparable harm” from the decision to bar him.

U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Kelly, an appointee of President Donald Trump, announced his decision following a hearing. The judge said Acosta’s credentials would be returned immediately and reactivated to allow him access to the White House.

CNN had asked the judge to force the White House to return the credentials that give Acosta, CNN’s chief White House correspondent, access to the White House complex for press briefings and other events.

The judge granted CNN’s request for a temporary restraining order. A lawsuit that CNN brought against the Trump administration over the issue is continuing.

The White House revoked Acosta’s credentials after he and Trump tangled during a press conference last week.

The judge said the government could not say who initially decided to revoke Acosta’s hard pass. The White House had spelled out its reasons for revoking his credentials in a tweet from White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and in a statement after CNN filed its lawsuit. But the judge said those “belated efforts were hardly sufficient to satisfy due process.”

The judge also found that Acosta suffered “irreparable harm,” dismissing the government’s argument that CNN could simply send other reporters to cover the White House in Acosta’s place.

The suit by CNN alleges that Acosta’s First and Fifth Amendment rights were violated by suspending his hard pass. While the judge didn’t rule on the underlying case, he signaled they were likely to prevail in their claims.

The judge told attorneys to file additional court papers in the case by Monday.

“Let’s go back to work!” Acosta said outside the courthouse after the ruling.

Trump has made his dislike of CNN clear since before he took office and continuing into his presidency. He has described the network as “fake news” both on Twitter and in public comments.

At last week’s press conference, which followed the midterm elections, Trump was taking questions from reporters and called on Acosta, who asked about Trump’s statements about a caravan of migrants making its way to the U.S.-Mexico border. After a terse exchange, Trump told Acosta, “That’s enough,” several times while calling on another reporter.

Acosta attempted to ask another question about special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation and initially declined to give up a hand-held microphone to a White House intern. Trump responded to Acosta by saying he wasn’t concerned about the investigation, calling it a “hoax,” and then criticized Acosta, calling him a “rude, terrible person.”

The White House pulled Acosta’s credentials hours later.

The White House explanations for why it seized Acosta’s credentials have shifted over the last week.

Sanders initially explained the decision by accusing Acosta of making improper physical contact with the intern seeking to grab the microphone.

But that rationale disappeared after witnesses backed Acosta’s account that he was just trying to keep the microphone, and Sanders distributed a doctored video that made it appear Acosta was more aggressive than he actually was. On Tuesday, Sanders accused Acosta of being unprofessional by trying to dominate the questioning at the news conference. 

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Court, Featured, Local, News, Politics, Regional0 Comments

Shelling SHELLY (Licks like peas?)

I said I would do it, so here it is. (This in response to a challenge in Social Media)
A point by point rebuttal (and a few agreements) of Shelley’s shallow portrayal of Montserrat to the UK Foreign Affairs Committee inquiry.

by Mike Jarvis –

Comments are in brackets (…) (italicised)
———————————————————————————

Written evidence from Shelley Harris (OTS0056)
Executive Summary:

  1. a) Regarding relationship with all the OTs – as a British citizen I should not have to have my passport stamped every time I enter what is my own Territory.

(Agreed. Scanning is sufficient. And let’s get rid of that shamrock stamp as it has no relevance)

The rest of my submission regards only Montserrat –
b) I should not have to have permission to buy a house, start a business or work in Montserrat as I am British.

(Agreed. I don’t need permission to do likewise in the UK as a Montserrat-born British citizen from an Overseas Territory, not just a British Overseas Territories Citizen. Full British should mean full British. like the breakfast – even though I don’t quite like it, the breakfast that is)

  1. c) Montserrat does not have a functioning government and there is no-one in the wings to take over.

(Nonsense. Montserrat has a poorly functioning government and we are not certain who is in the wings to take over. Just like the UK with Brexit)

  1. d) Too much aid to the island is wasted on projects that do not benefit those on island or the Island’s economy. The current Premier keeps saying ‘Britain will pay’.

Only partially correct. DfID must carry some of the responsibility for this. Be careful that the Premier doesn’t sue you. Have you really heard him say “Britain will pay”? Or, has he been saying – ad hominem and ill-advisedly – “Britain should pay” given his inexplicable obsession with First Call and Article 73. Perhaps we should call him that)

  1. d) The current government do not grasp the concept of accountability and transparency.

(Evidence needed to support this outrageous statement)

  1. e) We need direct control from the UK with UK legislation which is enforced.

(Absolute, utter, baseless garbage. What’s the basis for saying this…or are you just gas-lighting to seek attention?)

  1. f) We need a boost to the economy. There are no policies to do this. A tax-free island would boost the economy, so would supporting local private sector businesses that are sustainable.

(That’s why we have elections. And, just like – not because of – the British, our democracy works almost flawlessly. It could do with a few tweaks but it’s OK for the moment)

  1. g) Immigration policy is worrying with an increasing number of low paid immigrants who want passports.

(You might have a point here. I’ve heard the Labour Commissioner voicing some concerns on the radio)

  1. h) I feel completely cut off from common sense and currently see no positive future.

(Are you sure you don’t feel cut off from your own commonsense that you should have as an airline executive, rather than going on ill-informed, baseless tirades that have cast your company into disrepute? You’ve done this to the extent that ’management’ – I take it that includes your good self – feel the need to distance themselves from your outburst. That’s like you distancing you from yourself!
Well that’s new. How do you do it?)

My background:
I am a British Citizen that started a private sector business in Montserrat almost 30 years ago.
I have become extremely worried, particularly in the last four years, that on island there are not the skills, expertise or the will to do anything to make the island economically sustainable or comply with British expectations on legislation and enforcement.

(What freshness and forwardness!)

My submission referring to all the OTs
1. Regarding Britain’s relationship with all the OTs – as a British citizen I should not have to have my passport stamped and have permission every time I enter what is my own Territory.
My submission regarding Montserrat:
2. Montserrat does not have a functioning government. The current one is completely incompetent and wastes enormous amounts of money – most of which comes from the British taxpayer.

(Please refer to DfID as they have COMPLETE oversight over the spending of MY British taxpayer money)

  1. Worse, with an election due next year there is no-one in the wings that could lead the island. The current MPs will tell you they want to have a vote of no confidence in the premier but will not cross the house for fear of losing their own seats and their income. The pay is too attractive when there is very little other economy.

(That’s politics in a democracy. See the Conservative government and Labour opposition in the UK. Also, check the US for a good laugh on that)

  1. About the only bit of legislation they have managed to vote on in the last year is their own pay rise. They have been in breach of the constitution by not having parliament at the required times because they have done so little work that there is nothing to bring to parliament.

(An election is imminent. It’s up to the electorate…including you I’m certain)

  1. Although I do think we should let people learn from their mistakes there has to be a limit on the wasted money paid to the Montserrat Government.

(This is truly idiotic. If someone has so much that they can afford to pay ‘wasted money’ to someone else, why put a limit on it? It’s ‘wasted money’ anyway. Isn’t it Shelley? I’m having doubts about your intellect right here)

  1. Projects are mishandled (ZJB). Too many consultants are used at enormous cost when there is some unused expertise in the private sector on island.

(Agreed on ZJB. I’m very close to that. But it pales compared to Boris Johnson’s Garden Bridge in London, the HS2 rail project and others. Regarding consultants, see DfID. They commission them and pay them – and then commission more to review what was reviewed before)

  1. Those in charge still do not grasp the concept of accountability, transparency and a fair procurement process. The Premier keeps saying ‘Britain will pay’

(See my previous comments on this)

  1. There are some very good civil servants but many just paint their nails, sleep on duty and have no perception of what public service is. There are also far too many of them – probably because there is such a small private sector as an alternative source of employment.

(I challenge you to name names and the colour of the nail paint or whatever it is. How do you know there are too many of them? You have provided no evidence to substantiate this. Let me help; why then recruit more TCOs?)

  1. The current Governor is excellent. I have confidence in him.

(He seems an OK chap so far, but he’s been in the job less than a year so please elaborate on your vote of confidence. Is it the way he speaks? I like that – is it Cornish? – lilt)

  1. I would like to see free access given to the British to live, set up businesses, work and be able to take their full index-linked pensions on island. People (British and the Montserratian diaspora) should be encouraged (not discouraged) to move to Montserrat to live and work. Both will stimulate the economy.

(I am leaning towards liking this. Regarding pensions though, that’s a matter of HMRC policy. Take it up with the British government as it applies to some countries under very specific circumstances)

  1. I would like to see direct control from Britain on what it does now plus finance, health, education, the judiciary, access, trade, customs & immigration and major projects, – with some autonomy on local issues like housing, public works, agriculture, sport and community services.

(No)

  1. A tax-free island would boost the economy.

(It’s a thought. But how? Explain please, you have my interest. Montserrat could at least be a free port as we do have that option under the Caricom and OECS agreements)

  1. The island should be subject to UK legislation. The Island is completely incapable of making effective laws. It is way behind on effective human rights legislation. Enforcement of legislation is also a problem.

(Another unsubstantiated rant)

  1. Labour legislation is archaic and crippling economic development.

(Archaic by whose standards? Montserrat is ILO compliant. Ask Hylroy Bramble)

  1. There should also be some kind of national audit office to check on whether money is being spent wisely. It should publicise its findings.

(There is a government Audit Department which makes it the ‘national audit office’. Does Shelley even know Montserrat beyond the short wingspan of the Fly Montserrat planes?)

  1. A free press would help. Currently the only newspaper hardly every comes out and is reduced to just republishing other agency material from off island. The Radio station is frightened to say anything anti government and much goes unreported unless the speaker can get on air live.

(The press in Montserrat is free. How they use that freedom is a matter for them)

  1. Much aid from the British taxpayer and others is wasted. There is currently an annual subsidy of about EC$6m paid for a year- round ferry that is needed for about 10 days a year (a few days in December and March). This is paid from DFID, along with a subsidy for air access of EC$430,000. This unfairly skews the access market giving greatly subsidised travel by sea in competition with a local private sector company with little air subsidy.

(So this whole rant is a smokescreen for vested interests then? And again, this is a matter for DfID)

  1. The ferry subsidy also profits off-island companies at the expense of a Montserratian airline which, if the ferry fare was not so low, or it was just there for a few weeks a year, would make a profit and contribute more to the local economy.

(Unintelligible garbage that makes absolutely no business sense, unless this is about someone’s self-interest)

  1. The highly subsidised ferry also means people are encouraged to shop in Antigua rather than supporting the local economy. The inequitable subsidy used to reduce ferry fares, preventing the profitability of local companies, should stop.

(So cheap ferry fares encourage people to travel to shop. Therefore, is your logic to have punitively high airfares to discourage local people from travelling?
Also, if the ferry is already paid for, perhaps the fares should even be lower. Perhaps we need to look at import duties. Perhaps businesses need to look at where they source their products. And aren’t we already operating in a CARICOM and OECS trade zone?
The logic in your argument is missing…or there is something sinister driving your thinking
)

  1. There is no encouragement to new investors to start businesses on island. In fact the opposite. There are examples of people who have tried that have been treated very unfairly and left. No-one in government can tell potential investors how to set up.

(Some agreement here. But that’s what elections are for. By the way, in a later post because we have vehemently disagreed with you, you have basically accused us of stifling freedom of speech and wondered about comparisons to Mugabe and North Korea. You do have a big and irresponsible mouth don’t you?
I wonder which will chase ‘potential investors’ more; us exercising our democratic right of freedom of speech and robustly and intelligently challenging your ignorant and aggressive assertions, or you making comparison to Mugabe and North Korea
).

  1. It is interesting to see so many immigrants from The Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica and Guyana – most coming for low paid labour (and wanting a British passport). In some places you do not hear English spoken and we need to encourage the Montserratian diaspora (or more Brits) to return or it will get to the point that the majority on island are foreigners.

(What’s this? Xenophobia on our behalf? We don’t want it! That is at the root of Brexit, remember? This fear and loathing of ‘the other’. Those nationalities that you mentioned are CARICOM citizens. Please go and research CARICOM and educate yourself. These people were invited in the main. Also there are Montserratians living in their countries.
Regarding the diaspora; point taken
)

  1. There are those in power going round the island presently (E.g. at Rotary) advising people to say in this survey that the island needs more independence and be given more money! What is interesting is that most of the local reaction is to disagree as the money government gets is not well spent.

(What survey? It is NOT a survey. And Rotary is only one forum. Also, if anyone in power made such a pitch, clearly they were chased away with it, so why even mention it? Shelley, Shelley, Shelley. Hmmmm).

  1. It was good to see Lord Ahmad on island this year. He, and others concerned in the governance of Montserrat, should visit more often.

(And why not?)

  1. I would vote for rule from the UK with representation in the UK parliament. Stop the waste.

(Really? So who would ‘represent’ us in the UK parliament? I have my views but I’m certain they don’t align with yours)

  1. Montserratians have free access to the UK and the British should have reciprocal rights.

(That calls for a change of status both ways but remember the issue of population imbalance must be addressed as there are are vastly more ‘Britons’ available to relocate to Montserrat than vice versa. See also your previous remarks regarding Caricom nationals. By the way a Montserratian with a BOT passport has the same restrictions in the UK that you complain about for Brits in Montserrat)

  1. In time, perhaps there could be more autonomy as the necessary skills are developed.

(There is already autonomy)

  1. Currently it is a basket case that needs to be sorted out by a benevolent parent.

(Pardon me, but go to hell with this Shelley)

  1. Some of the observations regarding Montserrat might be relevant to other territories which are in deficit financially.

(I’ll gladly leave them to deal with you)

Posted in Features, International, Local, News, Politics, Regional1 Comment

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Honourable Premier Donaldson Romeo 2019 New Year Statement

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