PRIME MINISTER GONSALVES URGES LATIN AMERICAN & CARIBBEAN COUNTRIES TO ACCELERATE REGIONAL INTEGRATION PROCESS
This country’s Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has urged Latin American and Caribbean countries to accelerate the regional integration process amidst the region’s evolving geo-political space.
The Prime Minister reiterated this call while addressing foreign ministers and representatives of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of America (ALBA) in Managua, Nicaragua last Thursday.
According to a release from the Prime Minister’s Office ALBA Representatives met in Managua for the 17th Meeting of the Political Council of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of America - Treaty of Trade of the Peoples (ALBA-TCP) to discuss geopolitical issues among the nine-member grouping. The Council reaffirmed its commitment to strengthening solidarity among member countries, while urging governments within the region to consolidate advances in the progress towards integration. According to Dr. Gonsalves the region must work in a co-ordinated manner to address several issues relating to trade, the movement of people and climate change. Prime Minister Gonsalves told delegates at the forum that ALBA must focus on specific programmatic elements that are people centred in order to advance the regional integration process.
Prime Minister Gonsalves reaffirmed the point that ALBA is more relevant now than ever and added that they have to strengthen the people-to-people connection within Latin America and the Caribbean by linking and uniting the peoples. In his support for a stronger push towards deepening the integration process, Dr. Gonsalves noted that St. Vincent and the Grenadines has no visa requirements for ALBA member countries and urged other countries to examine visa restrictions within the regional bloc.
Among the representatives of the ALBA-TCP were the Venezuelan Foreign Minister, Jorge Arriaza, his Bolivian counterpart, Diego Pary Rodríguez, Foreign Minister of El Salvador Carlos Castaneda, Cuba’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abelardo Moreno as well as delegates from, Dominica, St. Kitts, Antigua and Barbuda. Prime Minister Gonsalves and Senator Carlos James formed the delegation from St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of America (ALBA) was created on December 14, 2004 in Havana through a constitutive treaty signed between Cuba and Venezuela, which was later joined by Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Dominica, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada and St. Kitts and Nevis.
CONTRACT SIGNED FOR THE REHABILITATION OF THE FIREBUN ROAD
The Economic Planning and Sustainable Development Division of the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning, Sustainable Development and Information Technology has signed a contract with the St. Lucian construction company, OB Sadoo Engineering Services Ltd. for the rehabilitation of the Firebun Road at Mt. Greenan.
The contract, worth two million, two hundred and sixty-seven thousand, six hundred and thirty-nine Eastern Caribbean Dollars and ninety-two cents (XCD 2,267,639.92) was signed on September 19, 2018. The works is funded by the European Union and is managed through the World Bank funded Regional Disaster Vulnerability Reduction Project (RDVRP). The works commenced on October 24, 2018 with the mobilization of the contractor’s resources and physical work shall begin in the coming week. The general public and residents of Mt. Greenan in particular shall experience temporary road closures to facilitate the curing of the new concrete sections as needed.
The 1.5 Km Firebun Road is an agricultural access road that serves a population of about 2,700 inhabitants from Mt. Grenan, Park Hill, and South Rivers. The majority of the Firebun Road is currently unpaved and only accessible with off-road vehicles and tractors, in particular, after storm events when the dirt road tracks become waterlogged and soggy.
The project is aiming to improve access to cultivated land and facilitate access to markets for agricultural produce, improve connectivity for the population living in the surrounding communities, and provide an alternate route when sections of the Windward Highway near Mt. Grenan and Colonarie are partially or totally closed due to damage caused by climate change events or traffic accidents. The cooperation of the travelling public will be therefore be appreciated.
Police have arrested and charged Joel Barker, aka “Platinum” 31yrs Landscaper of Peniston for the offence of murder.
According to investigations, Barker for with malice aforethought allegedly caused the death of Koreen Bowens, 23yrs of Richland Park by an unlawful act by shooting him in the chest with a gun at Clifton, Union Island between 7:00pm and 8:40pm on 3.10.18.
After the shooting incident, the accused absconded the country and went to Grenada. He was arrested by the Grenadian authorities on Sunday November 3, 2018 and brought back to St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Friday November 9, 2018. He is to appear at the Serious Offences Court in Kingstown on Monday November 12, 2018 for an arraignment.
EDUCATION MINISTER SAYS REVOLUTION IN EDUCATION HAS INDEED TAKEN PLACE
Minister of Education, National Reconciliation and Information the Hon. St. Clair Prince has said that a revolution has indeed taken place in education in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Minister Prince was speaking earlier this week at a ceremony where the Taiwanese Ambassador H.E. Calvin Ho, on behalf of his government and people, handed over scholarships to the tune of US$ 200,000 to 286 students of primary, secondary and post-secondary institutions here.
Minister Prince said that there is a change of mindset and a change in paradigm entirely when it comes to education in SVG. The Education Minister said that people talk about education more than years gone by and that people go to school with a particular aim in mind. “That’s a revolution” he said, adding that some can also refer to it as an evolution.
Minister Prince noted to that his government understands education and its importance to the socio-economic development of SVG and therefore continues to invest in the sector. He Pointed out that this year alone, forty-eight students were awarded with national scholarships.
The Ceremony at which Minister Prince spoke is an initiative of the Republic of China on Taiwan which came out of a memorandum of understanding between both governments of which SVG has been on the receiving end since 1998. The Education Minister said that this program dove tails with the social outreach programs provided by the government through the social welfare assistance to needy students and also the school feeding program.
The Taiwanese Ambassador will next week visit other locations to distribute bursaries beginning at the Bequia Seventh Day Adventist Secondary School on November 13th, 2018. The bursaries are given to financially challenged students in presentation ceremonies facilitated by the Ministry of Education.
Following the presentation ceremony at the Methodist Church Hall on November 6th for school children in and around Kingstown, a similar exercise was held at the Central Leeward Secondary School yesterday November 8th for students on the leeward side of the country.
FORMER BARBADOS PM OWEN ARTHUR APPOINTED PROFESSOR OF PRACTICE BY THE UWI
Former Barbados Prime Minister Owen Arthur has been conferred with the title of Professor of Practice: Economics of Development by the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus.
The appointment, which it took effect at the start of this month, was confirmed at the University Appointments Committee meeting in October.
Arthur, who thanked the university during an Alumni Symposium to mark the institution's 70th anniversary, is the third person to be appointed Professor of Practice at The UWI Cave Hill, following similar conferral on CEO at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Dr Dexter James and former banking professional Ian DeSouza.
With this title, he will deliver guest lectures in economics and related fields, as well as present public lectures, a release from the campus stated.
He will also assist with research projects and interface with international agencies on behalf of the Department of Economics and the campus.
Arthur's appointment will also see him providing mentorship to students of economics, as well as the Young Economists Association.
Arthur, a noted economist, is Barbados' fifth and longest-serving Prime Minister and an alumnus of The UWI Cave Hill and Mona Campuses. He also served as a Research Fellow at The UWI's Institute of Social and Economics Research in 1982.
ULP ADMINISTRATION WILL CONTINUE TO BUILD ON ITS EXCELLENT FOREIGN POLICY
Prime Minister Dr Hon Ralph Gonsalves has indicated that his Unity Labour Party ULP administration will continue to build on its excellent foreign policy foundation.
Speaking at the opening of a one-week bi-annual consultation for heads of missions and consulates, Dr Gonsalves outlined that the government will continue to strengthen relations with its traditional and new partners.
PM Gonsalves also noted that the government of SVG will continue to make regional integration the bedrock of the country’s foreign policy. Dr Gonsalves asserted that SVG will, through its foreign policy continue to be a voice for the issues of climate change and its impact on small countries as well as the matter of reparations.
SVG UPDATED ON STATUS OF OECS JUVENILE JUSTICE REFORM PROGRAMME
St Vincent and the Grenadines was recently provided with a status update of the OECS Juvenile Justice Reform Programme, which is now into its second phase.
Stakeholders from the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, OECS came together at the Beachcombers Hotel, for a meeting of the Regional Advisory Group for the Programme.
Addressing the session, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Mobilization Nerissa Gittens-McMillan highlighted the importance of the Programme, noting that there have been some reservations about it.
The meeting was held at the Beachcombers Hotel and was hosted by the OECS Commission. The session focused on the main goal of the second phase of the program, which is geared towards reducing the number of youth in conflict with the law by way of improved rehabilitation and reintegration practices.
EDRMS TO MOUNT NATIONAL EXHIBITION
The Electronic Document and Records Management System (EDRMS) will mount a National Exhibition here next week.
The Intelligent Bus Management and Monitoring System Project Exhibition which will be held at the NIS Conference Facility on Friday November 9th, beginning at 10 a.m.
The aim of the EDRMS is to exchange memos digitally between government agencies using the Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) Technology.
Authorizing and approving memos and letters online can facilitate the easy retrieval of documents hence the government will benefit from increased government efficiency, reduced costs, and minimized paper consumption.
The Intelligent Bus Management and Monitoring System Project Exhibition will showcase equipment to be installed in St. Vincent and the Grenadines for the new project that is to commence next year with installation of CCTV cameras and digital bus stops.
FOUNDER OF SVG DIASPORA COMMITTEE OF NY INC TO BE REMEMBERED WITH A MEMORIAL LECTURE
SVG Diaspora Committee of NY Inc. will later this month remember its Founder, Maxwell Haywood with a Memorial Lecture.
Vincentian Community Activist, Maxwell Haywood, who passed away a year ago on November 29, 2017, will be remembered by the organization he founded (St. Vincent and the Grenadines Diaspora Committee of New York Inc.) with the hosting of a public lecture to be delivered by President of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Justice Dr. Adrian Saunders. Justice Saunders, a long-time friend of Haywood, would present on “The Role and Importance of the CCJ in Advancing the Caribbean Civilization”.
The event, which will take place on Friday November 30, 2018 at the Founders Auditorium of Medgar Evers College will be held under the patronage of the Consulate General of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to the USA and in collaboration with Medgar Evers College. The event begins at 6:00 pm and will mark the official launch of the Maxwell Haywood Memorial Scholarship and Development Fund.
Maxwell Haywood, an outstanding son of the Vincentian soil, was the Founding Chairman of the SVG Diaspora Committee of New York Inc. and served as its leader for seven years until his passing on November 29, 2017.
GRENADA AND ANTIGUA & BARBUDA VOTE AGAINST CCJ
Both Grenada and Antigua and Barbuda voted against the move to have the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as their highest appellate court in separate referenda held yesterday.
President of the CCJ, the Hon. Mr. Justice Adrian Saunders said, “while the news is not what they hoped for, they respect the people of both nations and their decision. Justice Saunders noted that the court will naturally continue ongoing initiatives with justice sector bodies in each of these countries, and the wider Caribbean, through the JURIST project and otherwise.”
In both Grenada and Antigua and Barbuda, the turnout of voters was low. In Grenada, of 21, 979 votes cast, some 9,846 persons voted to adopt the CCJ as the final Court of Appeal. In Antigua and Barbuda,the margin was a little closer. There were 9,234 votes against and 8,509 votes in favour of the adoption of the CCJ.
The CCJ will still be serving both Grenada and Antigua and Barbuda. The CCJ President emphasised that, “these results will not, of course, deter them from serving with distinction those nations that currently send their final appeals to them. As well, the Court will also continue to process and hear applications from all CARICOM States, and from CARICOM itself, in the Original Jurisdiction, and the justice reform work in the region will also continue”. In addition, there is an Original Jurisdiction case currently before the Court originating from Grenada.
The JURIST Project, which is a multiyear justice reform project being implemented by the Caribbean Court of Justice on behalf of the Conference of Heads of Judiciary of CARICOM states, is working on a Sexual Offences Model Court to be housed at the High Court of Antigua and Barbuda in 2019. The CCJ Academy of Law is also hosting a legal conference in Jamaica in December 2018 at which jurists from both countries, as well as the wider Caribbean, are participating.
Mr. Justice Saunders stated, “one of the positives that came out of this exercise is that there was sustained public education in both nations and the conversation about the CCJ intensified.
MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OPTIMISTIC THAT SVG WILL WIN ITS BID TO SIT ON THE UN SECURITY COUNCIL
This country’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Commerce Sir Louis Straker has expressed optimism that this country will win its bid to sit on the United Nations (UN) Security Council.
Sir Louis while delivering remarks at the opening ceremony of the biennial consultation of heads of missions and consulates, being hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed confidence that SVG will succeed because of the leadership of Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves. Sir Louis revealed that when the idea of being on the Security Council was first broached, it was welcomed, but with some doubt as to if the dream could be realized.
Mr. Straker also added that there are countries with populations in the millions that have been waiting for over 20 years to get a second chance to be on the Security Council. The Prime Minister is pushing this country’s agenda to become one of the smallest countries to become a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. Elections for the security council seat will be held in June 2019.
If SVG is successful in getting a permanent seat on the Security Council, this will be the first time in over 20 years that a Caribbean nation will be sitting on the Council. Other Caribbean countries that have sat on the UN Security Council are Jamaica, Guyana and Trinidad & Tobago. The one (1) week Biennial Consultation opened here yesterday and will conclude on November 9th.
SVG ON THE BRINK OF BECOMING A GLOBAL LEADER IN PRODUCING ORGANICALLY CERTIFIED MEDICINAL CANNABIS
St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) is on the brink of becoming a globally leading producer of organically certified medicinal cannabis, rivalling any other producer in the entire Western Hemisphere. According to reports the expected passing of legislation later this month will ensure tightly regulated guidelines positions the nation as a powerful Caribbean hub for global medicinal cannabis innovation.
SVG Minister of Agriculture, Industry, Fisheries, Forestry, Labour and Rural Transformation Hon. Saboto Caesar said the industry has the potential to positively transform rural livelihoods and communities while changing the lives of patients who suffer from medical conditions that are unresponsive to other treatments.
Minister Ceaser was quoted as saying that the production of cannabis for medicinal purposes provides an excellent opportunity for Small Island States to further diversify possibilities for farmers to secure sustainable livelihoods. Minister Caesar concluded the Government would have more to say with the passing of legislation later this month but was now putting the world’s investors on notice of the top thirty benefits for investing in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
Some of the top ten thirty reasons to invest in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines have been listed as having the Tropical climate ideal for extra low-cost ‘outdoor’ cannabis production, over 50 years of experience in cannabis cultivation, more than 2000 traditional cannabis farmers, decades of experience in high-quality agriculture commercial production and export, availability of arable lands, rich volcanic soil suitable for producing high quality agriculture products and international air and sea port connections among others.
CXC TO HOST REGIONAL AWARDS CEREMONY IN SVG
The Caribbean examinations Council (CXC) will be hosting its regional awards ceremony here next month. The ceremony is scheduled to be held on Thursday December 6th, 2018 where fifteen(15) young people from across the region will be awarded for their outstanding performances at the 2018 sitting.
STUDENTS OF BARTEC TO RECEIVE ENTREPRENEURIAL AND BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT TRAINING
Students of the Barrouallie Technical Institute (BARTEC) will have an opportunity to receive entrepreneurial and business development training this month, at a four-day Youth Business and Entrepreneurship Training (YOUBET) Seminar.
YOUBET was developed by the Centre for Enterprise Development Inc. (CED) as part of its focus on empowering youths in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
The goal of YOUBET is to expose young people to entrepreneurial and business education, as a means of encouraging them to seek alternative avenues for employment creation and income generation. The programme also seeks to nurture the spirit of entrepreneurship.
This month’s training will be held during Global Entrepreneurship Week from November 12-15 at the Barrouallie Technical Institute. The students are pursuing studies in Data Operations, Food and Drinks, Food Preparation, and Garment Production at BARTEC.
The YOUBET seminar will be facilitated by Business Consultant Marlyn Richards, who will introduce and expose students to information that will help them to identify business opportunities, requirements for starting a business and business planning. Close to 40 students will benefit from the training.
NATIONALS OF ANTIGUA & BARBUDA AND GRENADA TO VOTE TODAY ON WHETHER OR NOT TO REPLACE THE PRIVY COUNCIL
Voters in Antigua and Barbuda as well as Grenada are casting ballots today to decide whether or not to replace the London-based Privy Council as the island's final court.
Antigua's Prime Minister Gaston Browne has urged citizens to exercise their franchise and said he is pleased he had done all he could to ensure that nationals were in a position to make a reasonable judgement on the issue.
Antigua and Barbuda would need a two-thirds majority of those casting ballots to ensure that the Privy Council is replaced by the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), which also serves as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas that governs the 15-member regional integration movement, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
Only Barbados, Belize, Dominica and Guyana are full members of the CCJ that was established in 2001 even though the majority of the CARICOM countries are signatories to the Court's Original Jurisdiction. Two years ago, they narrowly rejected the bill that would have allowed the island to sign on to the CCJ.
While Grenada's main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) is urging supporters to vote against the measure, Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell in a radio and television broadcast said that support for the CCJ would cement Grenada's political independence from Britain, which it attained in 1979.
Nearly 1,000 police officers were eligible to cast their ballots last Friday and reports indicate that early voter turnout today was slow.
The 1974 Grenada Constitution states that while the final appellate court is the Privy Council, any change or amendment would require a two-thirds of the voting population in a national referendum. The polling stations close at 5:00 pm (local time).
DOMINICA'S GOVERNMENT PREPARED TO TAKE LEGAL ACTION AGAINST ROSS UNIVERSITY.
Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said his administration is prepared to take legal action against the US-owned Ross University regarding the ownership and occupation of buildings on lands that had been leased to the offshore medical institution that has since relocated to Barbados.
Earlier this year, Ross University left Dominica under controversial circumstances after having been on the island for the past 40 years. The university later defended its decision to relocate to Bridgetown saying it had been taken “after considerable deliberations, including a review of our academic and infrastructural requirement and future plan”.
The Skerrit Administration said it had informed the Ross University School of Medicine that it could have resumed its operations on the hurricane struck island even before the start of the January semester in 2019.
In a July 9, three-page letter to the university, Prime Minister Skerrit had indicated that plans were advanced for the resumption of classes. Skerrit, speaking at a meeting with Dominicans residing overseas who are home for independence celebrations, said that Dominica had entered into an agreement for the lease of the land in the north of the island where the university had located its campus. He told the visiting Dominicans that the government is in discussions with at least four entities for a replacement to Ross University.
He said another entity is due on island later this month “to look at the possibility of setting up a medical school." In August, Skerrit said he had also appointed a task force, headed by prominent cardiologist, Professor Gerald Grell, to assist in the engagements with the parties.