News

Webinar - "Are oil and gas smothering the private sector in Trinidad and Tobago?"

The Caribbean and Central American Action (CCAA) in collaboration with the IDB are hosting a webinar based on the IDB publication: "Are oil and gas smothering the private sector in Trinidad and Tobago".

The author of the study, Jeetendra Khadan and other expert panelists will discuss the key findings of the study in a webinar on January 26, 2017 from 10:00am to 11:30am EST. The webinar is free and open to all. To register for the webinar follow this link.

When you register you will receive a confirmation email to join the webinar. If you do not receive one please email Gwen Siegel at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to join the discussion.

New Representative of Saint Lucia to the OAS Presents Credentials

The new Permanent Representative of Saint Lucia to the Organization of American States (OAS), Anton E. Edmunds, today presented his credentials to the Secretary General of the OAS, Luis Almagro, in a ceremony at the headquarters of the Organization in Washington DC.

During his speech, Ambassador Edmunds highlighted the issues of democracy and sustainable development as key for the region, as well as the unique role the OAS is meant to play. “We must continue to be an Organization representative of all of the peoples in our hemisphere, it is critical. It is what our legitimacy is based upon. And ultimately it is within this framework that Saint Lucia wishes to continue to play a proactive and a forward-leaning role in terms of the Organization and the work that the organization does.”

In welcoming the representative of Saint Lucia, the Secretary General highlighted his experience in the public and private sector as well as his connections to the business and diplomatic community in Washington and in the region. “I have no doubt you will apply your expertise and connections in support of the work of the OAS and in helping the Organization to address the challenges facing its member states,” he said.

Source: OAS

The Call for Public-Private Engagement in Education

By Dante Cid, VP, Academic Relations, Latin America – Elsevier/RELX Group

“We need to develop and disseminate an entirely new paradigm and practice of collaboration that supersedes the traditional silos that have divided governments, philanthropies and private enterprises for decades and replace it with networks of partnerships working together to create a globally prosperous society.” – Simon Mainwaring
Collaboration propels goals. Collaboration optimizes the capacity to go beyond boundaries and limits. That is the reason why companies like Coca-Cola and Heinz partner to manufacture a more sustainable, 100% plant-derived container. That is why research hubs like CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, create large-scale scientific collaboration on particle physics with academics, medium-sized companies and start-ups from all around the globe. Collaboration drives government agencies like the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to work with Google to track the spread of viruses. In this case, early detection of a disease outbreak can reduce the number of people affected and enable governments to better respond to epidemics.
There are numerous examples, but the conclusion is the same. “Together we are stronger.” And that’s exactly what the Americas Business Dialogue (ABD) is all about.
A private sector driven initiative facilitated by the Inter-American Development Bank , ABD was created for the private sector to have a more active and constructive role in policy discussions that are important for the Americas. Education and human capital development are areas that would benefit from this interaction.
Working side by side with companies in the IT, pharmaceutical, and telecom sectors, the RELX Group has been engaged in the Human Capital and Innovation working group since its inception. At Elsevier, RELX’s business that is the main information provider of scientific and medical research in the world, we have a privileged view of research on a global scale. Elsevier’s plethora of research data enables us to understand the trends in specific fields of study, as well as identify research competencies for determined countries or regions.
Elsevier data shows that Chile, for example, has an emerging competency in the area of stars research with 13% of global research production. While high-energy physics has become an emerging competency for Colombia, who has been collaborating with innovation hubs abroad, like CERN, which I mentioned before. We can also see that Cuba is a leader in dengue research, just behind the United States. Or looking at specific areas like agronomy and crop science, you can observe that while research on rice, wheat and genes is dropping, corn is growing.
That is the type of insight that the private sector can bring to the table and help governments map who will the best partner for each knowledge field. Furthermore, certain industries can predict what are the skills sets that will be needed in the future. That information can be essential for government to better plan where the budget should be invested in. Having institutional forums where governments of the region can engage directly with businesses ensures, for example, that the demand for skilled labor and competitiveness is met in the future.
But, let’s go back to the work of the ABD. For three years, this group has been examining innovation and human capital in the Americas, focusing on what does an innovation-friendly environment mean, but also what types of initiatives could the business sector support local governments in. Language and STEM-focused education are areas that were pointed out by the business sector from the Americas of where the region lags behind. With that in mind, the group recommends:

  • Stimulate science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, as well as entrepreneurship, through exchange programs, in particular to support the development of the human capital necessary for the infrastructure, logistics, energy and natural resources sectors.
  • Promote the implementation of public-private partnerships for technical and vocational education, as well as education in foreign languages, to create a larger, more qualified and more mobile workforce that responds to the demand for skills from the private sector and the needs of local communities

These initiatives are aimed at enhancing hemispheric competitiveness, increasing prosperity, and providing study abroad opportunities to better prepare a globally aware and culturally competent workforce.
I’m looking forward to the Education Network’s Regional Policy Dialogue “Bridging the Public and Private sectors in Education” that is being hosted by the Inter-American Development Bank and the Council of the Americas –with the support of the Americas Business Dialogue- in Washington, DC on November 7th. This is the perfect venue with government education authorities and private sector leaders from the region to share ABD policy recommendations and public-private partnership proposals and discuss how to improve the competitiveness of the Americas through efforts focused on education and human capital development.

Courtesy: Americas Business Dialogue

THE FEASIBILITY OF ESTABLISHING A SCHOOL OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND BUSINESS INNOVATION AT THE UNIVERSITY OF GUYANA

By Prof. Edward Davis

October 28, 2016 (GEORGETOWN, Guyana) -- A study team consisting of Faculty and staff from the University of Guyana (UG), The University of the West Indies, and various U.S. Institutions, along with Guyanese business professionals and a UG student representative, convened October 27 – 28 to perform an initial assessment of the feasibility of establishing at the UG a School of Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation (SEBI). The study team is chaired by Professor Edward Davis, Interim Dean of the Business School at Clark Atlanta University, Atlanta, Georgia.

During their brief visit, the team has had the opportunity to hear from stakeholders, including entrepreneurs, corporations and UG faculty, to gauge their reactions regarding the establishment of the SEBI. The team has also toured the UG Turkeyen Campus, with one member visiting the Tain campus, to view facilities, including classrooms, faculty and staff offices, the technology centre, and on-campus student housing. Team members took the opportunity of their visit to interact briefly with students.

Over the coming weeks, the team will synthesize these initial findings to begin preparation of a feasibility report to be presented to UG Vice-Chancellor Ivelaw Griffith in early 2017.

The team thanks all of those who so graciously gave their ideas and thoughts about this very important initiative. The team also wishes to thank the Vice-Chancellor, his team and all of those from The UG for their openness in responding to our inquiries.

It is our pledge to provide our very best counsel for this important initiative for the UG, the country and the region.
For further information contact Prof. Edward Davis at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. //404 880 8475

Grenada government postpones constitutional referendum again

By Caribbean News Now contributor

ST GEORGE'S, Grenada -- Citing a need for additional time to complete the public education process, the government of Grenada has postponed yet again the referendum on constitutional reform most recently planned for October 27.

In a press statement, the government noted, that proposed constitutional reform has been ongoing for many years, with a well-documented history of academic research and consultations that have informed this latest attempt.

However, with seven Bills finally settled on, and with the announced date approaching, the government, as well as the leadership of Constitutional Review Advisory Committee (CRAC), said it had noticed that the entire nation has begun to pay attention to the issues, in a way that has been unprecedented.

"We have sensed a genuine increase in national interest – and at the same time, people are asking for more time to become more familiar with what is being proposed.

"While we appreciate that we cannot have an open-ended process, we understand the magnitude and historic significance of the Bills being presented to Grenadians for their approval," the statement read.

According to the government, iIn particular, one clause in the Rights and Freedoms Bill has caused growing concerns in some circles. After extensive general discussion, including with the chairman and other members of CRAC, the government said it believes that this, and any other lingering issues of clarity, must be addressed.

"All the contributions of the various stakeholders on this matter have been considered and against this background, the cabinet has decided that it would serve the public good if approximately another month be given for the education process to be completed," the statement continued.

The governor general has therefore been advised that a new date should be set for the holding of a referendum and the Office of the Governor General will issue the relevant writs to give effect to this new decision. The Electoral Office will take charge of the process.

"We believe that this decision is in the broader national interest, and is consistent with the consultative posture of the government, as well the Constitutional Review Commission from the very onset.

"We invite all Grenadians to remain engaged in this dynamic process as we continue this long march to improving our constitutional arrangements – and in building a brighter future for not only this generation – but those to come," the statement concluded.

Courtesy: Caribbean News Now

Jamaica foreign minister to issue statement on discussions with Trinidad and Tobago

By Chris Patterson

KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) -- A formal statement outlining discussions to date between Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago will be presented to the Jamaican senate soon.

This was disclosed by minister of foreign affairs and foreign trade, Senator Kamina Johnson Smith, while responding to questions posed by opposition members regarding relations between the two countries, at Friday’s sitting of the senate.

“The statement will provide a more complete update on where we are with the issues; suffice it to say that progress has been made,” she said.

Johnson Smith informed that, although the new facility for persons who have been denied entry has not been completed by its July deadline at the Piarco International Airport, another area has been constructed and renovated to “facilitate persons who are not landed”.

“It was toured by minister of national security, Hon. Robert Montague, and our high commissioner on October 13. There are improvements which we have asked for, including the installation of a telephone,” she said.

Johnson Smith said the installation of the telephone will allow persons to communicate with relevant parties who could assist if they have been denied entry.

The minister further noted that discussions were undertaken with minister of foreign and CARICOM affairs of Trinidad and Tobago, Senator Dennis Moses, during the 71st United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), which was held in New York from September 19 to 24.

Courtesy: Caribbean News Now

Caribbean can benefit from EPA, says Barbados PM

By Sharon Austin

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (BGIS) -- Barbados Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has expressed the view that the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) “bristles with opportunities” from which the Caribbean region can benefit.

Stuart made the comments on Tuesday as he delivered the feature address at the inaugural two-day European Union-CARIFORUM Sustainable Energy.

The prime minister told his audience: “Commitment to the successful implementation of the EPA has never waned. In fact, tangible contributions have been made by the EU and its member states under the Caribbean Regional Indicative Programme, the UK’s CARTFund and the German development body GIZ.

“This assistance has benefited the public sector, the private sector and regional institutions alike, thereby making a significant contribution to bolstering this region’s capacity to trade with the EU. We remain robust in our determination to seize the opportunities which we have negotiated under this comprehensive trading arrangement.”

The CARIFORUM-EU EPA, which was signed in 2008, is a trade and sustainable development agreement composed of measures to stimulate trade and investment between the two regions, build a regional market, and help to eliminate poverty.

The EPA seeks to move away from the preferential treatment to the region to a WTO compliant arrangement which seeks to substantially open up all trade between the Caribbean and the EU.

Stuart pointed out that the agreement, while ground-breaking as the first comprehensive North-South trade and development agreement in the global economy, was yet to see a noticeable shift in the terms of trade with the EU, since time was needed to build the capacity in the region to fully exploit the opportunities offered.

He added that it was unfortunate that the process of finalising the negotiations that would lead to the CARIFORUM–EU EPA coincided with the “onset of a prolonged period of fiscal and economic turmoil” in many economies across the world.

Stuart said the Caribbean was not unmindful of the need to eventually re-negotiate the terms and conditions under various trade agreements such as the EPA and the WTO with both the UK and member states of the European Union.

“I therefore wish to echo the sentiments of some of my colleagues that it may well be time for us in the region to focus more attention on political engagement with the EU to ensure the promotion and protection of our interests in a volatile global economy where the currents of individualism are growing more powerful and more pronounced,” the prime minister stated.

Courtesy: Caribbean News Now

Trinidad and Tobago on brink of economic danger, says PM

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad -- Declaring that Trinidad and Tobago is on the brink of the danger zone economically, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley on Sunday listed a series of construction projects due to come on stream shortly that are aimed at kick starting the economy.

Rowley said the proposed initiatives would help pull Trinidad and Tobago out of its grim economic state, resulting in much needed job opportunities. He said it was the construction industry that had been proven worldwide to stimulate economic growth, the Trinidad Guardian reported.

Rowley said that Trinidad and Tobago’s debt increased by $40 billion (US$5.97 billion) over the last six years, while revenues pointed downward. The external public debt now stands at $23 billion which must be paid back in US currency, he added

Commenting on the devastation suffered by Haiti from Hurricane Matthew, Rowley also urged citizens to head to banks to donate.

"It doesn't matter how bad your circumstances, there is somebody who is worse. We talk about pressure and poverty here until you think about Haiti," he said.

Courtesy: Caribbean News Now

Amid new immigration crackdown, CARICOM nationals will now find it harder to travel to the UK

By Dennis Adonis

LONDON, ENGLAND -- In preparation for the potential fallout from Brexit, UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd has announced that foreigners would no longer be able to take up jobs in the UK that Britons can do, while the number of people coming to Britain to work and study will be significantly reduced.

This means that Caribbean Community (CARICOM) nationals and other foreigners will now find it harder to obtain a visa to come to the UK to settle, work, or study.

In a wide ranging policy speech, Rudd explained that, under the new rules, employers can be jailed for employing someone who does not have the right to work there.

Property owners and landlords will also be sent to jail if they are found to be renting their property to illegal immigrants, while banks and other service providers can face heavy penalties for facilitating the financial or other business interests of an illegal immigrant.

Rudd also announced new plans regarding deportations, which she said would require the passing of new laws that would see migrants being deported faster and for less serious offences.

However, the hundreds of CARICOM nationals that travel to the UK annually for study or temporary work purposes will find it harder to do so, since visas will only be considered for certain categories of courses, while employment visas will only be possible if there is no one among Britain’s more than 65 million people that can do the job.

By comparison, it is already easier for a Guyanese citizen to obtain a visa to go to the US than to get one to come to the UK, where the entry requirements are relatively tough.

A large number of Caribbean nationals have settled in the UK and many of them are suspected to have either overstayed their permitted period to remain there, or settled there without the appropriate visa.

Courtesy: Guyana Guardian

OIC offers to finance bridge between Guyana and Suriname to promote regional integration

By Ray Chickrie
Caribbean News Now contributor

PARAMARIBO, Suriname -- Following the visit of the secretary-general of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Iyad Ameen Madani, and his delegation to both Suriname and Guyana last week, the ministry of foreign affairs of Suriname has reported that the OIC is willing to finance the construction of a bridge across the Corentyne River at the eastern frontier between Guyana and Suriname in an effort to enhance regional economic and physical integration.

This type of project falls under the rubric and vision of the Arab League and South American group, UNASUR, which meets at the heads of government level every three years. Such a project would support and promote regional integration and economic development, which Madani termed “a triangular relationship between the OIC, Guyana and Suriname”. The OIC will also work with UNASUR in this effort.

According to the foreign minister of Suriname, Niermala Badrising, who had several meetings with Madani while he was in Suriname, the OIC and its financial arm, the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) is in favour of the execution of major infrastructure projects in South America. One of these projects that can finally be realized, according to Badrising, is the bridging of the Corentyne River between Guyana and Suriname.

Badrising, who has been working closely with the OIC and the IsDB, said in a statement that a bridge over the Corentyne River linking the two countries “could become a reality if the countries involved are in agreement and if the project is feasible. It is one of the opportunities that we have to utilize OIC funds, and the project will complement UNASUR's regional integration vision."

he previous government in Guyana had agreed to partner with Suriname to seek finance from China to bridge the Corentyne River. However, there has since been no movement on the project. It is not known if the project was discussed when Madani met the foreign minister of Guyana, Carl Greenidge, in Georgetown.

In fact, the government of Guyana kept the entire OIC secretary general’s visit more or less a secret. Symbolism was strikingly missing – in the one single picture that was released by the OIC Secretariat of the visit to Guyana, the OIC flag was noticeably absent at a bilateral meeting with Greenidge. Further, there was no press statement issued during or after Madani’s visit by the government of Guyana.

For Guyana to tap into the benefits of OIC and IsDB membership, the relationship must mature to become one of trust and understanding. In Paramaribo, Madani, in a meeting with the press, stated categorically that “We are not a religious organization, and the OIC hails Suriname as an example of a multicultural country where different ethnicities and religions peacefully coexist.”

Madani stressed that the OIC is not interested in the internal affairs of Suriname; it is not looking to cause conflicts in Suriname or in the region.

“Suriname and Guyana’s membership in the group should be used to its fullest so as to contribute to regional integration and economic development,” he emphasised.

Madani said that he is happy that Suriname is active in the OIC, unlike other countries who are not seizing the opportunities. Guyana is not an active member of the OIC and there are conflicting narratives as to the reason behind it.

Meanwhile, President Desi Bouterse on Friday defended Suriname’s relationship with the OIC and the IsDB. He urged Suriname to take full advantage of the US$1.8 billion soft loan from the Bank. He warned that there are forces acting against these developments and Suriname’s cooperation with the OIC and IsDB in his government’s effort to stabilize the economy of the country.

Developing countries have long complained that the IMF is an institution willing to provide cash when they face economy calamity; however, the austerity measures the IMF imposes has no human face. It forces governments to cut back on vital socio-economic and welfare programs such as food, healthcare and education.

The IsDB has financed some mega projects in Tunisia, Kazakhstan, Morocco and Saudi Arabia. It supports projects in infrastructure, renewal energy, urban development, agriculture, health care and education. The group also provides technical support, capacity building, research and training, and co-financing with other partners like the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development; Kuwait Funds, Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development; Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA), and the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID). The OIC and the IsDB also work closely working the World Bank and UNDP.

Courtesy: Caribbean News Now

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