Caribbean RoundUp

Caribbean

The European Union recently signed a 346 million (euro) new regional funding program with the Caribbean region until 2020.

This represents more than a doubling of the funds that were available in previous years (165 million euros).

The program, designed together with the Caribbean representative organization Cariforum, establishes jointly agreed priorities for bi-regional cooperation.

The signing took place on the occasion of the EU-Celec (Community of Latin America and Caribbean States) Summit and the EU-Cariforum High level Event in Brussels.

Vice-President Federica Mogherini said: “The EU and the Caribbean have strong historic, economic and cultural ties, based on common values.

“With this new funding, we want to further strengthen our common efforts towards more inclusive and sustainable development and prosperity and will continue to stand by the side of the Caribbean people to continue to develop our excellent, mutually-beneficial partnership based on respect and common values.”

Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica said, “With the signing of the regional program we can now mobilize resources for the implementation of our jointly-defined priorities.”

The funds announced for the Caribbean are part of an overall package of the EU of almost 700 million (euros) in support of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Antigua

Antigua’s president of the Association of Persons with Disabilities, Bernard Warner is describing government’s treatment of the country’s elderly and disabled as “a disgrace.”

The head of the local organization alleges that government is now forcing some of the nation’s most vulnerable citizens to choose between the benefits of two social programs.

The Board of the Guardians and PDV Caribe provide assistance to the elderly, mentally challenged, visually impaired and the economically disadvantaged.

But Warner told the OBSERVER newspaper at least 30 of his members complained they have been told they can no longer benefit from both subsidies.

To make matters, worse, Warner said members of his association were only informed of the benefit when they turned up to receive their checks recently.

Warner said there should have been a warning before pulling the plug on the benefits.

He is calling on the public to stand up for those who will be affected.

Bahamas

Baha Mar CEO Sarkis Izmirlian has returned to China amid increasing uncertainty over the fate of the megaresort in The Bahamas.

Izrmirlian met with partners in China multiple times this year to discuss issues that are preventing the property from opening. He was recently in China.

The opening, which originally set for December 2014, has been delayed three times — the last in May this year.

Last month, the CEO informed staff that the property had canceled reservations and reassigned more than 1,000 employees from their original positions to jobs that needed to be done within the resort, construction cleaning, cleaning of the resort perimeter and loading of furniture and fixtures to the hotels.

Prime Minister Perry Christie has said repeatedly in recent weeks that he expects the matter to be resolved “imminently.”

Jamaica

The Jamaican government says it will begin testing its electronic procurement system next month ahead of its full implementation next year.

Funded jointly by the government and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the project is intended to strengthen the efficiency and quality of Jamaica’s public procurement process through the development of an electronic system for government procuring and tendering agencies and suppliers, and automating activities performed by these parties, by integrating them on a single portal.

Project manager for the Electronic Government Procurement Project in the Ministry of Finance and Planning, John Thompson, said three agencies have been selected for the pilot project, which will run for six months.

“By the end of December we would have ironed out all the kinks and we will be ready for full deployment commencing in 2016,” he said, adding that the web-based system is highly secure and encrypted.

He said that one of the major benefits anticipated from the system is the automation of the annual procurement process.

Grenada

More than 140 passengers arrived on JetBlue’s inaugural return flight from Grenada to New York earlier this month.

The flight was almost filled to capacity with nationals and returning visitors from the Diaspora which took off from the Maurice Bishop International Airport under the guidance of Captain David Neil and his crew members and amid loud applause touched down at JFK International Airport around 7 pm.

Among those on the New York-bound flight were several members of the Grenada media fraternity who were given the opportunity to experience JetBlue first-hand through a complimentary round trip, courtesy JetBlue Airways and the Grenada Tourism Authority.

Haiti

Former Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe is among 13 politicians rejected by the Electoral Council as Haiti prepares for presidential and general elections later this year.

In a list issued recently, the nine-member Provisional Electoral Council approved 58 names rejecting Lamothe as well as former foreign minister Duly Brutus and former social affairs minister Josefa Gauthier.

Gauthier had initially been recommended to move forward in the process by an elections panel but the decision was overturned recently by the National Bureau of Electoral Challenges.

While the Council gave no reasons for rejecting the candidates, political observers say this is normally done if the candidates fail to obtain discharge certificates from parliament certifying that they properly managed state funds during their tenure.

Lamothe served as prime minister during the period 2012-2014. Haiti is expected to hold local elections in August followed by the first the first round of presidential elections in October and a final round in December.

St. Kitts

Media and communication officials from across the region recently met in St. Kitts-Nevis for a symposium at demystifying the complexities of climate change and its related issues.

Officials at the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission noted that, implementing the awareness program on the subject “we recognize that people who speak on the subject of climate change communicate on a body of knowledge that is based on fluid scientific data, to people who are not necessarily interested in the science of climate change.

“This, we believe, can hamper our goal of achieving behavioral change as persistent poor environmental practices are known to exacerbate climate change impacts,” officials said.

The main objectives of the symposium were to highlight challenges related to climate change and examine strategies to scale up best practices and maximize the use of available media products that already exist in the Caribbean.

The symposium was funded by USAID.

St. Lucia

St. Lucia Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony recently opened the Caribbean Growth Forum (CGF) in St. Lucia, which was attended by more than 200 business leaders and economists to chart a way forward for the economic development of Caribbean countries.

The forum was held at the Sandals Resort on Pigeon Island, a short distance from the capital, Castries.

The two-day conference was organized by the Washington-based World Bank.

Ministers representing CARICOM governments met in a closed door session with international institutions to explore opportunities for partnerships between private entities and public section institutions.

In a statement ,the World Bank said the CGF initiative had engaged more than 2,500 government, private sector and civil society leaders, and led to the implementation of more than 100 reforms in improving business climate, boosting skills and productivity and enhancing connectivity and logistics.

Trinidad

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has announced that the legislation proposing a new runoff voting procedure, among other reforms, has been scrapped to allow greater consultation and in light of concerns expressed by civil society on the proposal.

At a post Cabinet-meeting recently at the Office of the Prime Minister, St. Clair, Port of Spain, she also made it clear that the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, other proposals for fixed terms for prime ministers and a right to recall, will also be left to lapse on the Parliament floor upon the dissolution of the Tenth Parliament.

The prime minister also ruled out, once and for all, the possibility of any-last minute legislative reform, which could have ushered in fixed general election dates before the Parliament ends, as he once more hinted that she poised to announce the election day “very soon.”

The following day the prime minister announced that polling day in T&T will be on Sept. 7, 2015.

Compiled by Azad Ali

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