|Posted by haimdatsawh on November 9, 2012 at 6:40 AM||comments (0)|
Inequality: The Silly Tales Economists Like to Tell
Dean Baker is a US macroeconomist and co-founder of the Centre for Economic and Policy Research. Some economists don't get paid to know about the economy, but to justify the trickle-up of wealth. Economists are "not rewarded for studying the economy", says Baker, as evidenced by the fact that almost everyone in the profession failed to predict the $8 trillion housing bubble that brought the economy to its knees [REUTERS]CEPR; Books; RSS; Last Modified: 30 Oct 2012 07:36
There is no serious dispute that the United States has seen a massive increase in inequality over the last three decades. However there is a major dispute over the causes of this rise in inequality. The explanation most popular in elite and policy circles is that the rise in inequality was simply the natural working of the economy. Their story is that the explosion of information technology and globalisation have increased demand for highly-skilled workers while sharply reducing the demand for less-educated workers. While the first part of this story is at best questionable, the second part should invite ridicule and derision. It doesn't pass the laugh test. As far as the technology story, yes information technologies have displaced large amounts of less-skilled labour. So did the technologies that preceded them. There are hundreds of books and articles from the 1950s and 1960s that expressed grave concerns that automation would leave much of the workforce unemployed. Is there evidence that the displacement is taking place more rapidly today than in that era? If so, it is not showing up on our productivity data. More germane to the issue at hand, unlike the earlier wave of technology, computerisation offers the potential for displacing vast amounts of highly skilled labour. Legal research that might have previously required a highly skilled lawyer can now be done by an intelligent college grad and a good search engine. Medical diagnosis and the interpretation of test results that may have previously required a physician, and quite possibly a highly paid specialist, can now be done by technical specialists who may not even have a college education.
"Most economists are not paid for knowing about the economy. They are paid for telling stories that justify giving more money to rich people."
There is no reason to believe that current technologies are replacing comparatively more less-educated workers than highly educated workers. The fact that lawyers and doctors largely control how their professions are practiced almost certainly has much more to do with the demand for their services. If the technology explanation for inequality is weak, the globalisation part of the story is positively pernicious. The basic story is that globalisation has integrated a huge labour force of billions of workers in developing countries into the world economy. These workers are able to fill many of the jobs that used to provide middle class living standards to workers in the United States and will accept a fraction of the wage. This makes many formerly middle class jobs uncompetitive in the world economy given current wages and currency values. This part of the story is true. The part that our elite leave out is that there are tens of millions of bright and highly educated workers in the developing world who could fill most of the top paying jobs in the US economy: Doctors, lawyers, accountants, etc. These workers are also willing to work for a small fraction of the wages of their US counterparts since they come from poor countries with much lower standards of living. The reason why the manufacturing workers, construction workers, and restaurant workers lose their jobs to low-paid workers from the developing world, and doctors and lawyers don't, is that doctors and lawyers use their political power to limit the extent to which they are exposed to competition from their low-paid counterparts in the developing world. Our trade policy has been explicitly designed to remove barriers that prevent General Electric and other companies from moving their manufacturing operations to Mexico, China or other developing countries. By contrast, many of the barriers that make it difficult for foreign professionals to work in the United States have actually been strengthened in the last two decades. If economics was an honest profession, economists would focus their efforts on documenting the waste associated with protectionist barriers for professionals. They devoted endless research studies to estimating the cost to consumers of tariffs on products like shoes and tires. It speaks to the incredible corruption of the economics profession that there are not hundreds of studies showing the loss to consumers from the barriers to trade in physicians' services. If trade could bring down the wages of physicians in the United States just to European levels, it would save consumers close to $100 billion a year. But economists are not rewarded for studying the economy. That is why almost everyone in the profession missed the $8 trillion housing bubble, the collapse of which stands to cost the country more than $7 trillion in lost output according to the Congressional Budget Office (that comes to around $60,000 per household). Few if any economists lost their 6-figure paychecks for this disastrous mistake. But most economists are not paid for knowing about the economy. They are paid for telling stories that justify giving more money to rich people. Hence we can look forward to many more people telling us that all the money going to the rich was just the natural workings of the economy. When it comes to all the government rules and regulations that shifted income upward, they just don't know what you're talking about.
|Posted by haimdatsawh on August 24, 2012 at 11:30 AM||comments (0)|
Caricom States Should Be Leery of Uncritical Acceptance of U.S. Drones
July 26, 2012 | Posted by Stan
Tagged With: Caricom, drones, drones in caribbean, obama, u.s. drones in caribbean, War on Drugs
The surprising news about the readiness of the Obama administration to introduce unmanned surveillance drones in the Caribbean in a new strategy to combat the notorious illegal drug trade has come like a virtual fait accompli.
Almost simultaneous with reports out of Washington on Sunday of planned operation of the “drones” project by the US Customs and Border Protection agency, Barbados’ Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs, Adriel Brathwaite, was enthusiastically embracing this latest development in the US war on drug trafficking.
Given the abomination of the drug culture that continues to create havoc with the lives and economies in too many Caricom states, it may be tempting to also uncritically endorse the initiative.
But such official responses ought to be delayed for some prior information-sharing on the modalities of operations of drones with assurances against misuse of intelligence and technology that could result in the loss of lives.
The announcement came after the US seemingly satisfied itself about the effectiveness of the surveillance drones for the Caribbean with secret trial exercises in The Bahamas.
When and where did consultations with regional governments occur? There was no mention about the drones project in the communiqué issued at the recent Caricom Summit in St Lucia.
Nor was there any allusion to it either by the Community’s Secretary General or current Chairman PM Kenny Anthony. There has been no references to it by the Community’s Prime Ministerial Committee on Crime and Security chaired by PM Kamla Persad-Bissesar.
And it has not yet been discussed for approval at the level of the Regional Security System, according to those who should know.
Representative institutions and organisations in the Caribbean will undoubtedly have an interest to learn whether Caricom governments have been briefed on it.
If so, have they satisfied themselves about its usefulness without compromising the region’s political sovereignty and territorial integrity?
The introduction of drones to intensify the US war against drug-trafficking, has now entered public consciousness in the Caribbean at a critical period.
|Posted by haimdatsawh on August 24, 2012 at 11:30 AM||comments (0)|
Poppycock politics in Guyana
Analysis by Rickey Singh
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
A strange political development took place two days ago in Guyana, where strange political occurrences have become the norm.
The Georgetown-based Caricom Secretariat released to the media on Monday morning a statement that, following "the unfortunate incidents surrounding the protests at Linden on July 18, 2012, which led to the deaths of three citizens of Guyana, the secretariat has been engaged with the Government of Guyana on a continuous basis..."
Further, that at the request of the Guyana Government (of President Donald Ramotar), Caricom "has recommended three distinguished Community nationals to serve on a Commission of Inquiry which is expected to probe and report on matters related to the events of that day..."
The three chosen Caricom nationals, said the secretariat, are Justice Lensley Wolfe, a former chief justice of Jamaica and current chairman of its Police Public Complaints Authority; KD Knight, a senior counsel who held the portfolios of national security and justice, and foreign affairs and foreign trade in the previous PNP Administration; and Dana Seetahal, senior counsel and former independent senator of Trinidad and Tobago, and a columnist of the Trinidad Express.
So far, so good. Hours later, on that same day, a scheduled meeting of representatives of the Government, parliamentary opposition and the Region 10 Council (that includes the bauxite mining town of Linden) was aborted.
The declared intention was to have, on Monday, a formal signing of the terms of reference for ending the month-long "Linden crisis" and pave the way for the work of the Commission of Inquiry to begin. So what happened?
Competing for support
The real reason perhaps resides in the ongoing competitive politics between the two parliamentary Opposition parties — A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), that includes the dominant People's National Congress, and the Alliance for Change (AFC) — for political support in Linden, which has been viewed as a traditional stronghold of the PNC up to last November's general election.
There have been variations in public political posturing between APNU's leadership and the Region 10 Council chairman on the terms of resolving the crisis in Linden.
The three killings of protesters on July 18 have been linked to police shootings and subsequent waves of arson and other criminal activities that have resulted in millions of dollars in losses and with the town's future now seriously jeopardised.
Significantly absent from last Friday's final meeting before the signing event scheduled for Monday afternoon was any representative of APNU's minority opposition partner, AFC. That, however, was not a surprise, especially to those monitoring the behaviour of the AFC's leader, Khemraj Ramjattan, a lawyer and defector from the governing PPP.
He had earlier admitted to involvement in "mobilisation" of protests by Lindeners against the Government's proposed phased hike in electricity tariff for eventual equalisation with the rest of Guyanese consumers.
That was the core issue and was still being used to literally fan flames, even after the Government had put the proposed tariff hike on hold and agreed to a general review of expressed social and economic discontent in Linden, for which the terms of reference and personnel for a special technical committee had been agreed.
However, as recently as August 10, the AFC's Ramjattan had told the local media of his party's rejection of any inclusion in the terms of reference for the independent probe into the killings of the three demonstrators who "may have organised, mobilised or promoted the protest on July 18..."
The harsh reality is that it is difficult to separate the tragedy of three deaths and the injuries suffered by at least a dozen protesters from the related incidents of July 18.
According to the sophistry of the AFC's leader, "even if Ramjattan went up there (in Linden) and organised the thing (the 'thing' being the protest), what's wrong with that? It is the exercise of a constitutional right".
What is most disturbing for Guyana's future political stability and social/economic advancement is not that the lawyer/politician Ramjattan could be so insensitive to the problems affecting Lindeners. Rather, that his self-serving platitudes could have succeeded in influencing the APNU, and, by extension, the PNC, into backing away from Monday's expected signing of the terms of reference for the independent commission of inquiry.
Consequently, there was the amusing scenario on Monday of the Opposition welcoming the announcement of the three distinguished Caricom citizens chosen for the independent probe, while still failing to reach consensus with the Government on the Commission's terms of reference.
As one well-known lawyer reacted when we spoke yesterday about this surprising development, "You simply cannot discuss text without context". Fair enough.
But the trio of identified commissioners for the coming probe, which has been in the making for more than a fortnight, may perhaps need to reflect on the implications of the poppycock politics in Guyana for more than Lindeners.
Currently it is manifesting in ongoing bartering between two opposition parties that together control a majority of one seat in the 65-member Parliament. The bartering involves more than painful political somersaults and is quite costly in its social and economic consequences for more than the bauxite mining town of Linden, which has a population of some 40,000.
|Posted by haimdatsawh on June 29, 2012 at 8:20 AM||comments (0)|
Latin American Leaders Reject Paraguay 'Coup'
Heads of three regional countries say they will not recognise new government after President Fernando Lugo was ousted.
Latin American countries have expressed concern at the ouster of Paraguay's President Fernando Lugo, with leaders of three countries saying they will not recognise its new government. Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez, Ecuador President Rafael Correa and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Saturday said they would not recognise the government of newly-installed leader Frederico Franco, who was sworn in by the same senate which, minutes before, had voted out Lugo. Paraguayan lawmakers on Friday impeached Lugo, 61, over his handling of a deadly land dispute. In a 39-to-4 vote, senators found Lugo, a former Catholic priest with a string of outstanding paternity cases, guilty of performing his duties badly during the dispute last week that left 17 people dead. An hour later, to cheers inside Congress and angry clashes outside, 49-year-old vice president Federico Franco was sworn in as the new leader of one of Latin America's poorest nations. A torrent of furious responses poured in from across the region, not just from traditional leftist allies like Bolivia, Nicaragua and Venezuela, but also from centrist and right-wing governments Argentina and Chile. "Without any doubt there has been a coup d'etat in Paraguay. It is unacceptable." Argentina's Kirchner said. She said the issue would be discussed next week at a summit of the South American trade bloc Mercosur, which includes Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. Even in Santiago, where Sebastian Pinera is Chile's first right-wing president since the late dictator Augusto Pinochet left office, there was disbelief at the move. The impeachment "did not fulfill the minimum requirements for this type of procedure," Alfredo Moreno, Chile's foreign minister, said on national television.
'Worthless, illegal government' Ecuador's Correa meanwhile condemned the unprecedented speed of Lugo's one day impeachment trial. "We're not going to cover up these actions that infringe terrible damage on our democracies and our peoples," he said. "We the Ecuadorian government, independent of President Fernando Lugo Mendez's decision to accept his removal, will not recognise the new government of Paraguay. There will be elections in eight months in Paraguay and the government who is elected in those elections - if they're transparent and democratic - will then be recognised by the Ecuadorian government," Correa added. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said: "In the name of the Venezuelan people and as head of state, Venezuela does not recognise this worthless, illegal and illegitimate government that has been installed in Asuncion." Central American nations issued a joint statement urging the international community to reject Lugo's impeachment. In Washington, a US State Department spokeswoman, Darla Jordan, said: "We urge all Paraguayans to act peacefully, with calm and responsibility, in the spirit of Paraguay's democratic principles." The surprise move against Lugo came after clashes last week left at least six police and 11 squatters dead on a huge estate poor farmers claim was acquired by political influence decades ago. While Lugo condemned the trial, saying it was tantamount to a coup, he pledged to accept the verdict that found him guilty of mishandling the situation. Paraguay's constitution only allows one presidential term, so Lugo would have stepped down in just over a year. On taking over, Franco named a new foreign minister and charged him with explaining to governments elsewhere in Latin America that the impeachment drive was constitutional, albeit "a little quick". Meanwhile on Friday, crowds of pro-Lugo protesters took to the streets condemning the impeachment trial and expressing support for the leader. Police in anti-riot gear drove them back on horseback and using water cannon. The last time a Paraguayan leader was impeached was in 1999 when Raul Cubas was accused of failing to fulfill his duties following the murder of the vice president and the killing of seven protesters. Cubas resigned before a verdict was reached.
|Posted by haimdatsawh on June 12, 2012 at 9:10 AM||comments (0)|
Caribbean Youth the Focus of CARICOM Meeting in Suriname
June 12 -- According to a news release by the CARICOM Secretariat, a Caribbean Community Youth Ambassadors (CYA) meeting opened in Suriname on Monday morning with a call by the country’s Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs, Hon. Ismantho Adna, for youth leaders to be vigilant and critical of the policies implemented in the region.
He told youth ambassadors that they were the voice of the Caribbean youth and should represent them very well, by ensuring that the interests of youth are integrated as a matter of priority in the broad development policies of the region.
The three-day meeting, which opened at the Torarica Hotel in Paramaribo, is convened to develop a three-year institutional framework for the CYA Program to guarantee its sustainability. This framework will be based on the research findings of the 2010 Report of the CARICOM Commission on Youth Development (CCYD) Eye on the Future, Invest in Youth Now for the Community Tomorrow and the commitments made by Heads of Government in the Paramaribo Declaration on the Future of Youth in the Caribbean Community.
The CARICOM Youth Ambassadors will also use the opportunity to develop an on-line regional social network that will be used as a vehicle to mobilize regional youth, share ideas and best practices. The meeting will also serve to equip CYAs with skills in New Media, marketing, branding and media relations.
The Minister told CYAs that the Government of Suriname - particularly the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs - “stands ready to implement the outcomes of the meeting and the recommendations in the Paramaribo Declaration and to integrate the outcomes in Suriname’s youth policy.
He pledged his commitment to working with youth leaders, noting that “together we have responsibility to create a better and safer CARICOM for its youth.”
In stating a rationale for the meeting, Dr Heather Johnson, Deputy Program Manager, Youth Development, CARICOM Secretariat, noted that in order to develop an effective administrative structure and institutional framework the CYAs need to understand the genesis of the program and appreciate the best practices and lessons learnt along the way.
She enumerated the several challenges of the CYAP, which include expanding national and regional youth networks, mobilizing scarce human and financial resources; sharing information and exchanging ideas with young people in the community and beyond and strengthening the administrative structure and institutional framework.
Notwithstanding these challenges however, Dr Johnson noted that it was the commitment dedication and talent of the CYAs that had propelled the program and deepened its impact since its inception in 1993. She added that “the program’s greatest strength lies in the fact that it is developed, implemented and managed by youth who are among their country’s brightest and best.”
The meeting is supported by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Youth Innovation (Youth-IN) project, which is a Caribbean Network for youth development work. The Coordinator for this project, Dr Paula Hildalgo-Sanchis, said youth were the force for progress and as such the Youth-IN project was designed to empower this force for the progress of CARICOM.
The Youth-IN project, she said, aimed to increase youth participation in governance processes; strengthened youth networks; create communication tools to reflect youth capabilities and strengthened youth planning and develop youth entrepreneurship initiatives.
Dean of the CARICOM Youth Ambassador Corps, Dwayne Gutzmer recalled that the CYAP was launched in Saint Lucia 19 years ago in celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Chaguaramas and noted that over the years they “ have had many achievements but we … also had our fair share of challenges and lip service.”
He challenged his peers to continue to demonstrate the commitment and tenacity that was the stuff of which regional youth were made.
He pledged his commitment on behalf of the youth ambassador corps to help re-scope and redevelop the program and work towards ensuring that it was vibrant and effective.
Suriname’s Youth Ambassador, Raynel Fraser who gave the welcome address expressed his hope that the meeting would realize the objectives set. He also stated that the time had come for young people to get off the periphery and participate fully in the integration process.
The three year plan that will be developed at the meeting will guide the CYAP in making strategic interventions across the region.
|Posted by haimdatsawh on April 20, 2012 at 8:15 AM||comments (0)|
Caricom and Cariforum: Two better than one?
A recent article by the Jamaica Observer raises the question of whether should there be two Secretariats for the ACP group of states in the Caribbean region, namely Caricom and CARIFORUM, the latter comprising Caricom and the Dominican Republic . “The dilemma is that there are now two secretariats, namely the Caricom Secretariat, an inefficient underfunded bureaucracy, and a CARIFORUM Secretariat which is really a fictitious institution in which the number two spot is given to a national of the Dominican Republic […] The same person serves as Secretary General of both the Caricom and CARIFORUM secretariats […] should there be one or two secretariats and, if there are two secretariats, should there be one or two secretaries general?”
While Caricom, which represents 15 Caribbean countries, is quite far along in the regional integration process and has the aim of creating an "economic union”, CARIFORUM is a group whose members are signatories to the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement.
The main concerns on this issue are raised by the Dominican Republic, as “[it] has no input in the selection of the secretary general of CARIFORUM […] and has no say in the superintending of the EPA Implementation Unit”.
Source: Jamaica Observer
|Posted by haimdatsawh on April 20, 2012 at 8:10 AM||comments (0)|
CARICOM Environment Ministers Meet to Tackle RIO+20 Agenda
CARICOM Secretariat, Guyana - April 19, 2012 - The 39th Special meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED), slated for Georgetown, Guyana on Friday, will provide the last ministerial platform for environment and sustainable development ministers to frame a regional strategic approach for the upcoming Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.
Set for the Rio de Janeiro on 20-22 June, the Conference on Sustainable development hopes to “secure renewed political commitment for sustainable development, assess the progress to date and the remaining gaps in the implementation of the outcomes of the major summits on sustainable development, and address new and emerging challenges.” The Conference will focus on two themes: a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication; and the institutional framework for sustainable development.
Sustainable development has been the overarching goal of the international community since the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro. It emphasizes a holistic, equitable and far-sighted approach to decision-making at all levels and “rests on integration and a balanced consideration of social, economic and environmental goals and objectives in both public and private decision-making.” It also recognizes the special development challenges and concerns of small vulnerable developing states such as those in the Caribbean.
The Rio Conference has the potential to be transforming for its member states, but that depends largely on the political commitment of both developed and developing countries. Regrettably, such commitment may waver in the face of global economic and geopolitical realities: Developed, rapidly developing and developing nations are now grappling with huge fiscal challenges and massive debt levels. Political elections in seven EU countries, including France with the second largest economy in Europe, will also usher in new political thinking that will definitely sway the dialogue on new avenues or envelopes of financing. Such dialogue may not necessarily be in favour of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) such as those which comprise CARICOM. Arriving at any consensus on new envelopes of financing will be a sticking point.
It is against this background that the Special COTED on environment and sustainable development will have to shape its agenda for its Georgetown meeting on Friday. CARICOM ministers will need to establish and agree on clear regional priorities as well as a concrete approach on how they intend to engage their counterparts at the Rio+ 20 Conference.
The issue of our approach to developing the green economy has to be at the top of the agenda. The concept of green economy focuses primarily on the nexus between the environment, the economy and the social realities facing the Caribbean region. The underlying challenge for CARICOM is to determine how its focus on a green economy, in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, can foster regional development and a better quality of life for its peoples. In this regard, the 39th COTED will need to discuss and adopt an approach to developing a green economy and be ready to articulate what it considers the minimum architecture for the green economy framework to guide us in the next decade. For it to do so however, all Member States have to be in the choir, singing from the same hymn sheet regarding a common understanding and approach to developing a green economy. This must be done before the Rio de Janeiro Conference where a cleaner definition will be established.
In preparing for Rio+20, CARICOM Environment Ministers will also need to address the structural issues that impact its poverty alleviation and eradication efforts within the Caribbean Region. The Region needs appropriate financing mechanisms, policies, regulations and governance framework to be able to implement any sustainable development strategy that it develops. We also need to address the challenging issue of escalating energy and labour costs as well as the cost of raw materials. In the absence of new financing mechanisms, as part of the Rio strategy, the COTED may need to look at how it can re-shape existing funds disbursement and present a plan of action to the conference.
Institutional reform of the global architecture for sustainable development is also a burning issue, as countries within the prevailing economic climate grapple to decide which or what form of intergovernmental system is best suited and equipped to take on sustainable development and to address the implementation deficit which has posed a challenge for CARICOM over the years. This deficit has become even more pronounced in light of the complex and defused issues surrounding sustainable development. The COTED will need to examine these carefully.
The anticipated outcome from the 39th Special COTED therefore cannot be any “urging,” it must be a decision for a clear regional agenda for sustainable development. If we fail to set our own agenda, then someone else will do so through their own country development assistance programs. The region is only too familiar with the notion that “one size doesn’t fit all.”
For this COTED therefore, it cannot be business as usual; it must spawn a foolproof strategy on how CARICOM is going to the Rio+20 to help shape the future we want for our children and their children.
|Posted by haimdatsawh on April 20, 2012 at 8:10 AM||comments (0)|
Trinidad and Tobago's Newsday
Caricom going...going...almost gone
Thursday, April 19 2012
RECENTLY, Caricom Secretary General, Irwin La Rocque stated that Caricom was “overly ambitious in its implementation of targets”. The Chamber views this statement with some concern – particularly as it comes from a regional official who is at the helm of the machinery that is responsible for overseeing the execution and implementation of regional plans.
At this critical juncture, with a new Secretary General at the helm, we anticipate that strong, clear and decisive leadership will be demonstrated in order to resuscitate the Caricom initiative. Our country leaders cannot continue to only pay lip service to integration.
With 22 years passed since the Declaration of Grand Anse, it seems that the growing array of stalled regional integration initiatives is due moreso to a problem of implementation, rather than to overly ambitious deadlines.
If Caricom hopes to be more results-oriented, it needs to address what former Caricom chairman, (Grenada Prime Minister) Tillman Thomas called: the “Implementation Deficit”. Key to perpetuating this deficit, is the lack of legal arrangements to bind member states to comply with their commitments within a particular time frame that will make the 15-Member grouping more effective.
For instance, some member states who still have an environmental levy, have committed to removing this levy as it goes against the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas (RTC), and for the past ten years have been “strongly urged” by the Caricom Secretariat to remove the levy. To date, this has not happened. However, the secretariat can do little more than “urge” its members to comply – and so the levy remains, threatening development of intra-regional trade and undermining the significant promise of the treaty.
Implementation is also stymied by an apparent lack of transparency, citizen participation and stakeholder engagement in decision-making. In recent times, the region has attempted to alter the treaty provisions relating to the suspension of the Common External Tariff – but at no point was there an attempt to consult the regional private sector on this decision. The top-down construct of Caricom leads to technocrats and officials taking too long to make decisions, while many region-changing discussions take place behind closed doors. While we understand that some discussions must be held in private, as Ken Gordon stated recently, “...we must adjust the way we communicate”. The Caricom Secretariat must ensure that all stakeholders are part of the decision-making process, as this is vital to the integration process. A third flaw with the Caricom implementation framework is that it is meeting-centric, but with no systematic approach to organising. However, these meetings often conclude without decisions, since national officials are given little time beforehand to consult with stakeholders and prepare proper national policies. Clearly, there is growing frustration within the Caribbean Community. We tend to agree with former Caricom chairman, Mr. Thomas, that there is a “loss of momentum with regard to the regional implementation agenda”. This seems to be a recurring theme year after year – one which is certainly not being addressed in a timely manner. Caricom is too important an initiative to fail, and the Chamber calls on its current secretariat to take more decisive action to push forward the Caricom regional agenda. We need a secretariat with a new ethos that is decision-oriented. If we continue down our current path, Caricom and all its promised ambitions are doomed to remain unfilled, and wither away.
|Posted by haimdatsawh on April 15, 2012 at 12:35 AM||comments (0)|
St. Kitts and Nevis in preparation for Sixth Summit of the Americas
BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, APRIL 11TH 2012 (CUOPM) – Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Elvis Newton and St. Kitts and Nevis’ Permanent Representative to the Organisation of American States (OAS), Her Excellency Jacinth Henry-Martin are in Colombia attending a series of meetings ahead of the Sixth Summit of the Americas later this week.
The two senior officials are attending the Seventh Regular Meeting of 2012 of the Summit Implementation Review Group (SIRG) in Cartagena, Colombia from April 10th to 12th and the First Meeting at the Ministerial Level of 2012 of the Summit Implementation Review Group (SIRG) on April 12.
The Summit is being held under the theme: Connecting the Americas: Partners for Prsoperity.”
In an editorial ahead of the Summitt, the Barbados Nation newspaper noted that among the 34 heads of state and heads of government to attend will be those from the Caribbean Community.
“Except for the absence of Cuba and Ecuador, it would be the second such hemispheric event in three years since that hosted by the government of Trinidad and Tobago in 2009.
While the chosen theme may be politically appealing, it would require a fact-based assessment of the progress achieved since the summit in Port of Spain in order to inspire confidence in the future.
From a Caribbean perspective, and bearing in mind that this region has the single largest bloc of representatives in the Organization of American States (OAS), it is to be assumed that our leaders will be forthcoming in highlighting the difference between soothing rhetoric on partnership for prosperity and the depressing reality of stubborn poverty, spreading inequalities and conflicts in this hemisphere.
In reflecting on the main agenda areas proposed for consideration at the Cartagena Summit – poverty reduction, security, and integration through improved infrastructure, technology and national disasters – CARICOM leaders in particular would do well to recall that the first Caribbean/United States Summit to take place in this region, and hosted by Barbados in May 1997, had as its motivating focus Partnership For Prosperity And Security.
The history-making event had attracted the involvement of then President Bill Clinton. Some 14 years later, United States Secretary of State Hilary Clinton – who will also be accompanying President Barack Obama at the Cartagena Summit – held an informal meeting here (Barbados) with Caribbean foreign ministers at which there was reaffirmation of the Bridgetown Accord On Partnership For Prosperity And Security.
It is more than high time for a candid assessment of the extent of progress in the crucial areas first identified in 1997, moreso now that the work agenda is to be guided by the theme Partners For Prosperity.
Let there be a reality check and communication of the results to the people of this hemisphere in whose name decisions will be made.”
|Posted by haimdatsawh on April 15, 2012 at 12:35 AM||comments (0)|
Regional Sports Academy off to explore “Caribbean Gold”
On behalf of the Cabinet of the President, DevSur.com has produced a special PRINT edition to be distributed to Caricom Heads of Government visiting Paramaribo next week for the 23rd Inter-Sessional Meeting. The intention of the publication was to present the Heads with the untold story of Suriname, in their language; the result has been a publication that shows Suriname in the lead of the Caribbean Community. The following is one of the stories featured.
By Marvin A. Hokstam
PARAMARIBO–A lot of backroom planning and preparation has gone on since Suriname first introduced the idea of a Regional Sports Academy (RSA) to Caricom Heads in Grenada last year. Insiders will tell you that the initiative, the brainchild of famed Suriname-born football star Clarence Seedorf- has the personal attention of President Desi Bouterse and that it’s understandable since he, in his younger days was an avid sportsman himself. Caricom Heads of State will be shown just how far Suriname has come with the project that is supposed to take Caribbean sportsmanship to new levels.
The Caribbean Sports Academy fits well into the growing curve of the Caribbean sports culture, the Preisdent said when he proposed the facility last September. “Suriname maintains the view that we can play a vital role in contributing towards this development in the future, since sport is an important tool to address critical health, social and developmental issues. Sports can provide youth with a positive future regarding their personal development. Sports means investments, but it also means foreign currency income for families and for our countries. Through the establishment of a unique Regional Sports Academy, the sports industry in our region will be generated and elevated to international standards.” The project will be set up in 220.000 m2 plot of land, amid the alluring jungle of the country.
Michael Watson, Permanent Secretary of Sport in the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs explained that the main focus of the center will be on development and education of talent. “Talent that is identified outside externally will be educated to professional levels here,” he said, adding “by educating talent we want to develop top sportsman. When a student comes to us, he or she will eat, sleep, and breathe sports.”
It may be obvious that Watson has made the Regional Sports Academy his baby; Government could not have chosen a more inspired person as focal point who has to see this initiative from concept to creation. During this interview he tirelessly pulls countless reports and PowerPoint presentations from his laptop to drive home the point of why the Academy is important. “Not everybody has the talent to become a top sportsman, but those will get the kind of training and education to make it; but e we will also have other programs for trainers, managers, marketing, youth development etc. At bachelor’s and eventually master’s levels,” he said. “The center will have a broad curriculum.”
The first group of students who will go for a Certificate in Sports Studies starts in March; the second group starts in September. Watson’s eyes glistened when he envisioned the moment his students will be introduced to the Caricom Heads of States at the Inter-Sessional Meeting, clad in their RSA garb, ready to make history. “We were actually thinking of involving the Heads in the first training session, but we reconsidered. We weren’t sure if we could take them through the rigorous regimen …,” he grinned.
As the RSA’s own facilities are not yet built, the first classes will be taught at the National Army Sports facilities. “We intend to start building as soon as possible; but not having our own facilities doesn’t have to deter us from starting. As long as we have our legal structure in place,” Watson stressed. The legal structure was arranged shortly after this interview.
Watson said the Center is meant to benefit all member states of the Caribbean Community. Its structure and curriculum were developed together with UWI scholar Dr. Morella Joseph and the board of the center comprises a seven man team of Caribbean experts. Cooperative programs are in the works with the University of the West Indies, to eventually accommodate their students who want to study sports professionally. Aside from sports fields and classrooms, the facility will feature dorm rooms and hospitality facilities for visiting family of foreign students. “We’re setting up a whole operation with skilled teachers and people in charge of proper facility maintenance and knowledgeable of hospitality,” Watson explained.
“Suriname holds the Sports and Youth portfolio within Caricom, so we intend this to be a Regional facility aimed at our region’s talent. Not just local. That is why we asked Caricom first to endorse the initiative. And most important: Suriname will see it through with our own resources and those of donors. We don’t want Caricom money; all we want from the region is its expertise,” Watson said, thankful for the consultants that have been made available through Caricom Secretariat.
Famed Caribbean sporters –like Seedorf, Suriname Olympic medalist swimmer Anthony Nesty, cricketer Brian Lara and Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt will be approached to lend their support and names to the facility’s success. “We would like to have the Brian Lara Cricket Field, the Anthony Nesty Swimming Pool and maybe the Usain Bolt Track and so on, to inspire our talented youth to go for their utmost,” the Permanent Secretary said.
Watson said the center follows the creed “sports for development” and goes against the dwindling curve of how the region approaches the development of its youth. “That doesn’t get the same attention it used to get, while it is important that our youth are taught the skills they need to be able to communicate with others, to be prepared to fulfill their tasks as members of society. That’s what we believe sports should also be used for; to teach our youth the right attitudes,” he said.
In addition, he said, by teaching young people all over the region the right attitude through sports, the Center will achieve a healthier Caribbean. “In Suriname only about 20 percent of the community is actively involved in sports; so at least 80 percent doesn’t do it enough. That’s alarming; and it’s like that in other Caribbean nations as well. The Sports Academy will help change that as well, because in a few years we will have more well educated young sport professionals, actively urging people to do more sports. That will bring a structural development of talent and increase the chances to identify top quality at young age. Because we don’t do that enough now, a lot of talent goes wasted, or leaves the region to excel somewhere else. We want to change that; that’s why one of the slogans we’re toying with is ‘Running on Gold.’ We’re going to be that mining company that explores the gold and puts it to our communities’ advantage.”
|Posted by haimdatsawh on March 29, 2012 at 11:55 AM||comments (0)|
New counterterrorism guidelines permit data on U.S. citizens to be held longer
The Obama administration has approved guidelines that allow counterterrorism officials to lengthen the period of time they retain information about U.S. residents, even if they have no known connection to terrorism.
The changes allow the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), the intelligence community’s clearinghouse for terrorism data, to keep information for up to five years. Previously, the center was required to promptly destroy — generally within 180 days — any information about U.S. citizens or residents unless a connection to terrorism was evident.
The new guidelines , which were approved Thursday by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., have been in the works for more than a year, officials said.
The guidelines have prompted concern from civil liberties advocates.
Those advocates have repeatedly clashed with the administration over a host of national security issues, including its military detention without trial of individuals in Afghanistan and at Guantanamo Bay, its authorization of the killing of U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in a drone strike in Yemen, and its prosecution of an unprecedented number of suspects in the leaking of classified information.
Officials said the guidelines are aimed at making sure relevant terrorism information is readily accessible to analysts, while guarding against privacy intrusions. Among other provisions, agencies that share data with the NCTC may negotiate to have the data held for shorter periods. That information can pertain to noncitizens as well as to “U.S. persons” — American citizens and legal permanent residents.
The director of national intelligence, James R. Clapper Jr., has signed off on the changes.
“A number of different agencies looked at these to try to make sure that everyone was comfortable that we had the correct balance here between the information-sharing that was needed to protect the country and protections for people’s privacy and civil liberties,” said Robert S. Litt, the general counsel in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the NCTC.
Although the guidelines cover a variety of issues, the retention of data was the primary focus of negotiations with federal agencies. Those agencies provide the center with information such as visa and travel records and data from the FBI.
The old guidelines were“very limiting,” Litt said. “On Day One, you may look at something and think that it has nothing to do with terrorism. Then six months later, all of a sudden, it becomes relevant.”
Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the government has taken steps to break down barriers in information-sharing between law enforcement and the intelligence community, but policy hurdles remain.
The NCTC, created by the 2004 Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act, collects information from numerous agencies and maintains access to about 30 data sets across the government. But privacy safeguards differ from agency to agency, in some cases hindering timely and effective analysis, senior intelligence officials said.
|Posted by haimdatsawh on March 19, 2012 at 10:10 AM||comments (0)|
Communique issued at the conclusion of the Twenty-third Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), 8-9 March 2012, Paramaribo, Suriname
Press release 67/2012
(09 March 2012)
COMMUNIQUÉ ISSUED AT THE CONCLUSION OF THE TWENTY-THIRD INTER-SESSIONAL MEETING OF THE CONFERENCE OF HEADS OF GOVERNMENT OF THE CARIBBEAN COMMUNITY (CARICOM), 8-9 MARCH 2012, PARAMARIBO, SURINAME
(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) The Twenty-Third Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) was held in Paramaribo, Suriname, from 8-9 March 2012. His Excellency, Desiré Delano Bouterse, President of the Republic of Suriname, presided.
Other members of the Conference in attendance were: the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Honourable Winston Baldwin Spencer; the Prime Minister of Barbados, Honourable Freundel Stuart; the Prime Minister of Dominica, Honourable Roosevelt Skerrit; the President of the Republic of Guyana, His Excellency Donald Ramotar; the Prime Minister of Jamaica, Most Honourable Portia Simpson-Miller; the Premier of Montserrat, Honourable Reuben Meade; the Prime Minister of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas; the Prime Minister of Saint Lucia, Honourable Kenny D. Anthony; the Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and The Grenadines, Dr. The Honourable Ralph E. Gonsalves; and the Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Honourable Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
The Commonwealth of The Bahamas was represented by Deputy Prime Minister, Honourable Brent Symonette. Grenada was represented by the Minister of Works, Senator the Honourable Dennoth Modeste. Haiti was represented by Special Envoy (designate) to CARICOM Mr John Patrick Alexis.
Associate Members in attendance were Honourable Hubert Benjamin Hughes, the Chief Minister of Anguilla and Honourable Walter Lister, Member of Parliament of Bermuda.
Special Guest in attendance was His Excellency, Sebastian Piñera Echenique, President of the Republic of Chile
OPENING SESSION The Opening Session was addressed by the Chairman of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community, His Excellency Desiré Delano Bouterse, President of the Republic of Suriname; Outgoing Chairman of the Conference, Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas, and the Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque.
The Secretary-General said this Inter-Sessional Meeting, should be remembered as the “initiator of this era of change.” He said the change would be taking place within an environment of reform within the Community, its Organs, Bodies and Institutions and take into account the way the Community’s affairs were governed and conducted. He said he recognised clearly that the change at the Secretariat must start and be led from the top.
Prime Minister Douglas said CARICOM, must continue to adapt and re-invent itself – “never in terms of our undergirding values, purpose, and principles, of course - but certainly in terms of how we function, how we operate, the extent to which we are, or are not, efficient, effective, relevant, with a sharper focus on being more results oriented.” He highlighted one of his achievements as Chairman as the on-going efforts to inject new vigour in the advancement of the process to set the region on a path of renewed focus. The Chairman called for a new beginning which would only be possible if the Region undertook its task with renewed vigour. He said: “We must not only take account of our failures, but permit new energy to infuse our possibilities.” In reference to the review of the Secretariat presented to the Heads of Government at the meeting, he said the in-depth analysis of the institutions must lead to a better way of doing things. President Bouterse said that the Community not only required a better and more empowered Secretariat, but also the political will of the elected officials, to further the integration agenda. “CARICOM integration, the full realization of the Treaty of Chaguaramas must not be about paper -agreements and protocols-it must live,” he added.
His Excellency stated that: “We have no reason to be poor. Look at what we have amongst us: oil, gas, gold, diamonds, bauxite, forests, sea, sun, sugar, rice, spice, coffee, water, and so much more.” With such resources he said, “we can do more than survive. We can flourish.”
The Website for the CARICOM Youth Ambassadors (CYA) Corps in Suriname was launched at the opening of the Meeting and Heads of Government expressed their satisfaction at this achievement. The Regional Sports Academy was also launched during the Meeting. Heads of Government applauded Suriname on these two initiatives.
REFORM IN CARICOM
Heads of Government received the Report on the Review of the Secretariat. The Report which they had commissioned in July 2010 in Montego Bay, Jamaica, was carried out by independent Consultants and supervised by a Project Management Team comprising representatives of Member States.
They considered in-depth, the recommendations of the Report as well as recommendations by the Community Council on that Report and agreed that the Report would be made public.
Heads of Government were of the firm view that the integration movement has continued to make great strides ever since the signing of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.
Heads of Government agreed that the Secretary-General would begin the process of restructuring of the Secretariat through the recruitment of a change facilitator to support him in that exercise and the strengthening of the corporate functions in the first instance. In a parallel exercise, the Bureau of Conference would work with an internal group from the Secretariat to facilitate improving regional governance and implementation. This process will involve the drawing up of the outline of a five-year strategic plan in time for consideration by Heads of Government at the Thirty-Third Meeting of the Conference in July.
COMMUNITY RELATIONS HAITI
Heads of Government noted the positive outcome of the visit of the Bureau of Conference to Haiti on 13 – 14 February 2012 which served to reaffirm the Community’s support for and solidarity with that sister nation. They welcomed the fruitful discussions held with H.E. Michel Martelly, President of Haiti, his Cabinet Members and relevant stakeholders in Haiti. They further welcomed the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding with regard to CARICOM’s support for Haiti in the areas of institution building, capacity building, programmes for youth development and facilitation of travel for Haitian nationals. In this regard, they underscored the importance of the Special Representative and the CARICOM Representation Office in Haiti in continuing to provide support for Haiti through advocacy and capacity building as well as to assist in the implementation of the recently signed MOU. They reiterated their call for the international community to fulfil their pledges to finance the reconstruction of Haiti and looked forward to the early ratification of a new Prime Minister.
Grenada – EXIM Bank Dispute
Heads of Government were briefed on the severe strain on the economy of Grenada in light of the unprecedented legal measures taken by the EXIM Bank of Taiwan for repayment of loans amounting to US$28M. They were concerned that such action amounted to economic strangulation of Grenada and expressed solidarity with the Government of Grenada in these trying circumstances.
Heads of Government discussed the situation in the CARICOM Associate Member of Anguilla and issued a statement which is attached.
Turks and Caicos Islands
Heads of Government expressed their concern at the continued situation of non-representative government in the Associate Member of Turks and Caicos Islands. They noted the reports of progress in the achievement of some of the eight milestones established by the UK as pre-requisites for the holding of elections on the islands. They reiterated the critical importance of holding elections at the earliest possible opportunity in order to ensure the return to democratic and representative government in the TCI and to promote the best interests of the people of that country. They further underscored the importance of ensuring that the people of TCI are given the opportunity to express their individual voices on the process of constitutional reform currently underway, especially with regard to the composition of the electorate.
CRIME AND SECURITY
Heads of Government received an update on the CARICOM Framework for the Management of Crime and Security. They discussed current trends in criminal activity, including the international dimension and new and emerging threats to security in the Region. They agreed that the security of the Region continued to be of high priority, especially in the context of the international criminal architecture confronting the Region. Heads of Government also discussed the future Regional Crime and Security Agenda including, possible areas for extra-regional co-operation and initiatives for sustaining it. In this context, they received an interim report on the Consultancy to examine the institutions involved in implementing the Regional Security Agenda. They agreed on the need for a closer working relationship among these institutions.
Heads of Government had previously recognized the systemic risk to the regional financial system, and had deemed the financial collapse of the Colonial Life Insurance Company and its subsidiary British American Insurance Company, in the Eastern Caribbean as a regional problem which required a regional resolution. Accordingly, the Regional Technical Committee under the chairmanship of the President of the Caribbean Development Bank, which was set up by the Council for Finance and Planning, in early 2011 has submitted a slate of proposals to address this situation.
These proposals range from mechanisms to allow for the re-imbursement of policyholders, sharing of the burden of this reimbursement among affected States to institutional arrangements to support the stability of the financial system particularly in the Eastern Caribbean. These proposals will shortly be considered for adoption by the Council for Finance and Planning with a view to providing early relief to the many policy-holders who have been adversely affected by this situation.
Heads of Government have requested the Central Bank Governors to provide an early report on the stability of the financial system in the Community, along with appropriate measures to enhance the regulation and monitoring of financial entities which operate cross-border.
Heads of Government agreed to seek an urgent meeting between the Prime Ministerial Sub-Committee on Cricket and the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) before the end of March 2012 to try and resolve several issues. In this regard, they received a report presented by the Government of Guyana, with respect to the ongoing situation in that country
The mandate given to the sub-committee includes a mediation role in the on-going disputes between Mr Christopher Gayle and the WICB as well as issues related to the governance of cricket.
In the latter regard, the sub-Committee will review the state of implementation of the Patterson Report on Governance of West Indies Cricket in collaboration with the WICB.
Heads of Government were of the view that the recent statement by the WICB responding to the Prime Minister of Jamaica was insensitive, out of order and disappointing.
Heads of Government commended the Government of Suriname on its initiative to develop a regional commercial enterprise to assist with the funding of the Community’s institutions. They agreed to support this initiative and endorsed the proposal for Suriname to undertake an initial feasibility study for the establishment of CARICOM Enterprises.
Heads of Government also agreed to the establishment of a Regional Task Force to examine the proposal in greater detail. In this regard, they further agreed that Suriname should serve as the Chair of the Task Force with Barbados, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, a representative of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and Trinidad and Tobago as members.
Heads of Government approved the ‘Implementation Plan for the Regional Framework for Achieving Development Resilient to Climate Change’ which defines the Region’s strategic approach for coping with climate change for the period 2011 – 2021;
They expressed appreciation for the support of International Development Partners with respect to the Implementation Plan and pledged to support the further efforts of the Climate Change Centre and the CARICOM Secretariat in the execution of the Plan.
Rio + 20
Heads of Government acknowledged the significance of the upcoming United Nations Conference on Environment and Sustainable Development (Rio +20) scheduled for Brazil, 20 – 22 June, 2012.
In recognizing the importance and sensitivities of the issues relating to the “Green Economy Framework” and the institutional strengthening of the International Framework for Sustainable Development, the Heads of Government agreed that the special development challenges faced by the small vulnerable developing states like those in the Caribbean, should be fully acknowledged in the Rio + 20 outcome.
To address these and other related matters, Heads of Government endorsed the hosting of a special meeting of the COTED on Sustainable Development to finalise a common regional position on the issues before the Rio+20 Conference.
HONOURABLE SIR GEORGE ALLEYNE OCC Heads of Government agreed to nominate the Honourable Sir George Alleyne OCC as a Caribbean representative on the UN Secretary General’s proposed High Level Panel (HLP) of Eminent Persons to advise him on practical measures to overcome the global development challenges hindering the achievement of the MDGs and other development objectives.
Heads of Government took note of the continued growing relations between the Republic of Guyana and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. They expressed the hope that the existing friendly relations will aid the efforts towards a resolution of the controversy that emerged from the Venezuelan contention that the Arbitral Award of 1899, that definitively established the boundary with Guyana, is null and void.
Heads of Government reaffirmed their support for the maintenance of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Guyana.
Heads of Government reaffirmed their unequivocal support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Belize
EXCHANGE OF VIEWS WITH THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF CHILE
Heads of Government welcomed the participation of His Excellency Sebastián Piñera Echenique, President of Chile at their Twenty-Third Inter-Sessional Meeting. They welcomed President Piñera’s call for the strengthening and deepening of relations between CARICOM and Chile through enhanced cooperation in a wide range of areas, as well as through the adoption of common positions in hemispheric and international arenas.
The President of Chile highlighted the shared feature of political and institutional stability in Latin America and the Caribbean in an era of democracy and economic growth. This, he said provided a unique opportunity, through education, to reduce poverty and collaborate in dealing with challenges such as global warming and climate change, organized crime, drug trafficking, terrorism and corruption.
Underscoring the importance of promoting cultural exchanges and people to people contacts between the two sides, Heads of Government reiterated an invitation to the Government of Chile to participate in CARIFESTA XI to be held in Suriname in 2013. They were pleased that this invitation was warmly accepted by Chile
The Heads of Government congratulated Chile on its assumption of the high responsibilities of President Pro Tempore of the Community of Latin America and Caribbean States (CELAC) as well as that of Chair of the European Union-Latin America and the Caribbean forum (EU-CELAC) for the period 2012-2013, and expressed the Community’s full support for both processes.
They further expressed the Community’s appreciation for the Government of Chile’s willingness to advocate on behalf of CARICOM countries, at the upcoming G-20 Summit in Mexico, in June 2012 on issues of concern to small vulnerable economies. Included among these issues are the reform and restructuring of the international financial system, the strengthening of financial regulations, debt relief, combating commodity price volatility, addressing food and nutrition security and renewed access to concessionary financing for highly indebted middle income countries.
In thanking Chile for its active involvement in assisting the CARICOM Member State of Haiti, Heads of Government and State of CARICOM and of Chile reiterated their commitment to the continued support to that nation in its reconstruction and development efforts.
THE MALVINAS/FALKLANDS ISLANDS
Heads of Government reiterated the importance of observing the provisions of United Nations General Assembly Resolution No. 31/49. Heads of Government also called on both parties to resume negotiations on all the relevant issues in order to find as soon as possible, a peaceful and definitive solution to the dispute, in keeping with the relevant resolutions of the United Nations.
APPRECIATION: DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL
Heads of Government noted that the Deputy Secretary-General, Ambassador Lolita Applewhaite would complete her tenure at the CARICOM Secretariat in June 2012. They expressed sincere appreciation to Ambassador Applewhaite for her committed and distinguished service to the CARICOM Secretariat and the wider community. They expressed particular appreciation for her stewardship of the Secretariat in her capacity as Acting Secretary-General from January to August 2011.
Government and People of Suriname
Heads of Government expressed their appreciation to the Government and people of the Republic of Suriname for the generous hospitality and the excellent arrangements put in place for the Meeting.
DATE AND VENUE FOR THE THIRTY-THIRD REGULAR MEETING OF THE CONFERENCE (July 2012)
Heads of Government agreed to the dates of 4-6 July 2012 for the convening of its Thirty-Third Regular Meeting to be held in Saint Lucia under the Chairmanship of the Prime Minister of Saint Lucia, Dr. the Honourable Kenny D. Anthony.
STATEMENT ON SITUATION IN ANGUILLA
Heads of Government discussed with the Chief Minister of Anguilla, the prevailing situation in that CARICOM Associate Member where public tensions between the Governor and Chief Minister persist.
Heads of Government expressed their grave concern at the continuing deterioration in the governance arrangements in Anguilla and expressed the firm view that, at all times, the best interests of the people of Anguilla must be paramount, including due respect for the duly-elected government.
In this regard, Heads of Government called upon Anguilla’s leaders to safeguard public confidence in political leadership through constructive and objective discourse and reiterated the Caribbean Community’s readiness to contribute to an abatement of the ongoing tensions.
They accepted the invitation from the Chief Minister of Anguilla to send a delegation of Heads of Government to Anguilla at the earliest opportunity.
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|Posted by haimdatsawh on March 9, 2012 at 1:05 PM||comments (0)|
Posted: Monday 5 March, 2012 at 3:39 PM
OAS Ministers of Education highlight the role of teachers in the “Declaration of Paramaribo” and issue recommendations for the Summit of the Americas
Press Release (OAS)
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NEWS SPONSORED BY: St. Kitts Bottling Company Ltd. ( Tel: 869-465-2580 / 869-662-3632 )
PARAMARIBO Suriname, March 5th, 2012 -- Ministers of Education of Members of the Organization of American States (OAS) highlighted the role of teachers in educational processes in the “Declaration of Paramaribo” at the end of a two day meeting in the Surinamese capital, where they also issued recommendations on pedagogical matters for the Summit of the Americas.
The meeting was closed by the OAS Assistant Secretary General, Albert Ramdin, and the Minister of Education of Suriname, Raymond Sapoen, who chaired the encounter.
Ambassador Ramdin congratulated government representatives on the meeting’s results and urged them to turn the devised plans into reality. “Education, without any doubt needs to be a significant part of any development strategy in any country in the world. The role of education is becoming critical and a vision, mandates and plans will not be doing the job. What we need, and it’s critically important, is the institutional capacity, the commitment, the political will and most importantly the financial resources to do them,” he said.
“I hope that following this meeting and the Declaration of Paramaribo, Member States and the Governments that you represent will not only endorse the vision that you have agreed upon, but also will translate that into a working plan to put money behind those plans, to execute those plans,” the OAS official added. He also tanked national representatives on the support they provide to the OAS on these issues.
Minister Sapoen said that the meeting was “a very fruitful exchange of information, experiences and practices”. “Don’t let these agreements stay in words. We are currently in the years of writing words, let the coming years be the years of doing,” he added.
The Surinamese Minister was elected at the meeting to Chair the Inter-American Committee on Education (CIE, by its Spanish acronym), succeeding Ecuadorian Minister Gloria Vidal. Also elected were Costa Rica and Paraguay, both as Vice Chairs.
Declaration of Paramaribo
The “Declaration of Paramaribo (available here) stressed the importance of teachers in all levels of the educational process. “We reaffirm the key role of the teacher in educational processes and results and recognize that the participation of teachers in efforts to improve the quality of education is important, so as to help ensure that the results are effective and lasting,” the text says.
The document also highlights the need for educators “to have access to quality initial preparation and continuing professional development” and acknowledges that “policies to strengthen the teaching profession and opportunities for quality professional development are vital to attract, employ, induct, develop, evaluate, motivate, retain, and recognize teachers so that they become ever better educators.”
The Declaration of Paramaribo also emphasizes the importance of expanding access to new technologies in education, and applauded the progresses made by the Inter-American Teacher Education Network (ITEN). On that regard, the government of the United States announced during the meeting its commitment to further provide resources to strengthen ITEN’s work Summit of the Americas
Member Status also instructed CIE, with support of the OAS, to draw up a Work Plan to implement the vision agreed upon in the Surinamese capital. This work will start at a meeting to be held in May 2012, where CIE will have available contents emanated from the Summit of the Americas, to be held April 14-15 in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia.
Previous to that, the “Declaration of Paramaribo” will be presented to the Heads of State and Government at the Summit, together with other recommendations to be compiled by the Chair of the Meeting in Suriname. In Paramaribo, some countries already put forward proposals such as strengthening teacher’s education; establishing diploma or degree equivalencies among countries; strengthening learning of languages; and considering the importance of the role of the family in education and development.
Before closing the event, the OAS Acting Executive Secretary for Integral Development, Jorge Saggiante, emphasized that the cooperation among countries promoted by the Organization with meetings such as the one in Suriname and initiatives such as ITEN “contribute to what we call democratic governance, which is the essential purpose of our Organization. This is the way we think that the Organization can fulfill an important role in the Hemisphere,” he said.
“We are a political Organization, our efforts are aimed at promoting and strengthening political dialogue, and that is what we do on issues of cooperation. We are convinced that dialogue is a very important tool in our countries, because it allows us to identify needs and chances, to find consensus and discover what brings us together, and that is what brings us towards cooperation,” he added.
All documents from the Seventh Meeting of Minister of Education of the Americas are available here.
For more information, please visit the OAS Website at www.oas.org .
This article was posted in its entirety as received by SKNVibes.com. This media house does not correct any spelling or grammatical error within press releases and commentaries. The views expressed therein are not necessarily those of SKNVibes.com, its sponsors or advertisers
|Posted by haimdatsawh on March 9, 2012 at 1:05 PM||comments (0)|
Change starts with me
Press release 62/2012
(08 March 2012)
SG: CHANGE STARTS WITH ME
(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) The 23rd Inter-sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), should be remembered as the initiator of the era of change in the Community.
This hope was expressed by CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque as he addressed the Opening Session of the two-day meeting in Paramaribo, Suriname on Thursday. This change, he said, would be taking place within a particular environment, “an environment of reform within our Community, its Organs, Bodies and Institutions. It must take into account the way we conduct and govern our affairs. An important part of this process is the need for further prioritisation.”
The Secretary-General said that in recent times the Community had been engaged in deep introspection at all levels, “sparked by a desire to transform the way we do business.” The push for transformation, he said, is being propelled by the urgent need to make CARICOM citizens feel the impact and enjoy the benefits of the integration movement in their daily lives.
“The challenge in delivering this transformation is in determining how we will get it done. As the saying goes, the devil is in the details. I recognise clearly that the change must start and be led from the top. The Office of the Secretary-General has been given particular attention by the authors of the Report and the recommendations are deserving of serious consideration. The buck, as it were, starts here,” Ambassador LaRocque emphasised.
In referring to the presentation to Heads of Government of the Report on the restructuring of the CARICOM Secretariat, the Secretary-General said it was probably symbolic that the Report was being presented at his first Heads of Government Meeting as Secretary-General. He said he welcomed the review and the decisions made by Heads of Government on the recommendations of the Report would provide him with the basis for addressing the challenges faced by the Secretariat in its efforts to fulfil the role and function envisaged by the leaders.
In the new dispensation, Ambassador LaRocque said, the Secretariat must become more strategic in its approach to its tasks and its advice to the Organs and bodies of the Community and he would seek to inculcate that approach in the work of the organisation.
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|Posted by haimdatsawh on March 9, 2012 at 1:05 PM||comments (0)|
Time for action is now! PM Douglas
Press release 63/2012
(08 March 2012)
TIME FOR ACTION IS NOW! PM DOUGLAS
(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) Outgoing CARICOM chairman, Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis, the Hon Dr Denzil Douglas, on Thursday morning, made a strong call for the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community to take action now!
The St Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister was addressing CARICOM Heads of Government and their delegations at the Opening Ceremony of their 23rd half-yearly Meeting, in Paramaribo, Suriname.
In invoking the spirit and letter of the 1992 Report of the Ramphal-led West Indian Commission, Dr Douglas noted that two decades after that seminal Report, the Community was getting ready to discuss another report that contained a similar call for radical action now on the part of Heads of Government.
Prime Minister Douglas was referring to the recent Landell Mills Review (2012), which contained recommendations on turning around the Community and its administrative body, the CARICOM Secretariat. The review was commissioned by CARICOM Heads of Government amidst calls for a more efficient and effective governance mechanism for greater efficiency and increased effectiveness of the Community.
“Let me repeat, the ‘TIME FOR ACTION IS NOW’ and requires a demonstration of political will to engender real and sustainable transformation,” Dr Douglas asserted.
Dr Douglas reminded his colleague Heads of Government that, notwithstanding public criticisms, the Community was still on the edge of some very difficult and serious times, largely imposed by global uncertainties and challenges.
He therefore encouraged the Conference to remain optimistic and focussed - on its goals for efficiency and a strengthened governance mechanism. He warned however that the Conference could persist in dissonance and platitudes, but must remain steadfast in its resolve “to move beyond the enunciation of our priority … to see the realization of our vision.” This, he added, required “all hands on deck, if the ship of this Community is to sail safely through the turbulent waters.”
In responding to the call for relevance, Prime Minister Douglas acknowledged that CARICOM must continue to adapt and re-invent itself in terms of how it functions, but NEVER in terms of its core values, purpose, and principles.
He added that in the context of global realities that had created hardship for the peoples of the Caribbean, the Conference must provide greater clarity and form regarding the ideals of integration in order to inspire hope and confidence for the people of the region who he stated were questioning the CARICOM’s resolve to truly transform their lives.
He made a further call for CARICOM to position itself to forge strategic alliances in order to harness much needed resources that could help to move the Community forward; but cautioned against any alliance that threatened to subsume CARICOM into other groupings.
“We have been able to enter any chamber and assume any role without anyone ever raising even the slightest question about our individual nation’s, or indeed our Region’s honour. This is of incalculable value. Let us strive, with all our might, to keep it this way” the St Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister cautioned
More importantly, he challenged his colleague Heads to commit themselves to remaining “alert, vigilant, and resistant to anything, within the region, that might taint this reputation that our forebears worked so very hard to build, and in a spirit of utmost faith and trust, bequeathed to us.“
|Posted by haimdatsawh on March 9, 2012 at 1:05 PM||comments (0)|
Statement by the Right Honourable Dr. Denzil L. Douglas Prime Minister, St. Kitts and Nevis At the Twenty-Third Inter-sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Paramaribo, Suriname, 8-9 March 2012
Press release 60/2012
(08 March 2012)
STATEMENT BY THE RIGHT HONOURABLE DR. DENZIL DOUGLAS, PRIME MINISTER OF ST. KITTS AND NEVIS AT THE TWENTY-THIRD INTER-SESSIONAL MEETING OF THE CONFERENCE OF HEADS OF GOVERNMENT OF THE CARIBBEAN COMMUNITY (CARICOM), PARAMARIBO SURINAME, 8-9 MARCH 2012
(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) I am pleased to join my distinguished colleagues, our Secretary General LaRocque and the other members of the CARICOM delegations who have all converged here in Suriname in conveying profound gratitude to Your Excellency, President Desi Bouterse, your Government and people of the Republic of Suriname for the unique hospitality extended to us here in your beautiful country. Indeed, when we look back in the annals of our history as a region and as a Community of people, motivated and integrated by our own uniqueness, we will always remember the importance of our meeting here today.
We congratulate and welcome for the first time to the Conference, our new Head of State of Guyana, H.E. President Ramoutar. We also reflect on the long and distinguished service of his predecessor, H.E. President Jagdeo, who has worked on the continued development of the region. I wish also, at this juncture, to congratulate our new member of the Bureau, Hon. Dr. Kenny Anthony, Prime Minister of Saint Lucia for his victory at the polls – a victory, which has brought him back to the table of Conference. His experience will augur well as we endeavour to further combine our energies to guide the decision making process in these critical times. I am also delighted to welcome back to the fold Prime Minister of Jamaica, the Most Honourable Portia Simpson-Miller. We look forward to fruitful engagement throughout your tenure. Today holds much significance to your leadership and participation as we join with the international community in celebrating International Women’s day.
I must also recognize our Secretary-General who is with us for the first time in his capacity as the new CEO of the CARICOM Secretariat. Ambassador, your task is great as you have come to the position at a time of transition and transformation from an era characterized by the long distinguished and sterling service of His Excellency Sir Edwin Carrington, former Secretary General of CARICOM and the invaluable service provided by H.E. Ambassador Lolita Applewhaite, Deputy Secretary-General. I have no doubt that you will apply yourself and provide the leadership that is so critical at this time for the Community’s machinery. We are acutely cognizant of the fact that these are, indeed, trying times and our region is being called upon to defend itself, and to chart a way forward, in the murkiest of global waters.
Over the past six months, prevailing global conditions imbued the responsibilities of the CARICOM Chairmanship with a special import – and this made the opportunities for in-depth consultation and collaboration with you, Fellow Heads, invaluable.
Your wise counsel, divergent views, and solidarity represent, in my mind, essential, though intangible, institutional assets, which I know our new current Chair, President Bouterse, will find to be of great value.
This meeting is being convened at a critical juncture in our integration movement when we appreciate the need to move from the crossroads where we stood at the beginning of this century and reiterate firmly from the caption of the Report of the West India Commission to enunciate our own expectation that ‘ the time for action is now’. If the thrust of that seminal report on the way forward with the CARICOM Community held relevance then, our deliberations today on the current Report submitted by the consultants that treat with the restructuring of the CARICOM Secretariat is of even greater significance almost two decades later.
As outgoing Chairman, I wish to underscore the need for optimism. In light of our goals for efficiency and a strengthened governance mechanism, this meeting will see us more steadfast in our resolve to move beyond the enunciation of our priority in this regard and to see the realization of our vision. This requires all hands on deck, if the ship of this Community is to sail safely through the turbulent waters.
Colleagues, the world in which CARICOM was born is no more. Geo-political, socio-economic, and other global stresses have caused our operational landscape to be ever-changing, and our problem-solving challenges ever more complex. CARICOM, therefore, must continue to adapt and re-invent itself – never in terms of our undergirding values, purpose, and principles, of course - but certainly in terms of how we function, how we operate, the extent to which we are, or are not, efficient, effective, relevant with a sharper focus on being more results oriented.
The goal, form, and practical thrust of regional integration, for example, are still being debated and examined in the streets of Kingston and Kingstown, Bridgetown and Basseterre and will be done this week in Paramaribo. And so, in light of ever-changing global and regional conditions, it remains CARICOM’s essential responsibility, along with all of us gathered here today, to provide greater clarity and form regarding the ideals of integration so that we inspire hope and confidence for the people of our region who are questioning our resolve to truly transform their lives.
Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, I remind you that these are not easy times. The global uncertainties, the genesis of which for the most part is external, still pose significant challenges to our region, we are on the edge. At first, the EU, which is one of the major donors of development aid to our region looked anxiously westward, deeply concerned about a possible contagion effect. Now, not only do they know that the crisis was indeed “contagious,” but they themselves are now fully in its grasp. Similarly, due to the interconnected nature of the world economy and our own economic linkages with both North America and Europe, we too, have found ourselves, over the past two to three years, anxiously looking both eastward and northward, because uncertainty there means uncertainty here. I reiterate that the ‘TIME FOR ACTION IS NOW’ and requires a demonstration of political will to engender real and sustainable transformation.
As outgoing chairman, I wish to underscore the need for optimism and to highlight some of our achievements over the past months. These include but are no means limited to our ongoing efforts to inject new vigour into the advancement of the process to set the region on a path of renewed focus. Being fully cognizant of the need to be strategic, CARICOM must position itself to become more meaningfully engaged, though not subsumed, into other regional groupings. However, we must continue to forge strategic alliances recognising that their respective strengths and resources can assist the Community in propelling itself towards a platform for strengthened functional cooperation. We must purposefully pursue our goals as a region focusing on acquiring enhanced risk-management capabilities and sharpening our negotiating capabilities.
Expanded intra-regional economic activity is a priority for us all. And intra-regional sea and air-links are key to both expanded economic activity on the one hand, and the undergirding of a truly “Caribbean” frame of mind on the other. Unpredictable fuel costs and unreliable fuel supplies, however, are a 21st century reality. The challenge, therefore, is for us to meet the need, both of [i] the Caribbean to know that there are reliable air links that cannot and will not disappear – overnight – simply because some businessperson thinks they should, as well as the imperative that [ii] any such service under the region’s control be truly competitive.
Then, there remains the challenge of climate change, our region’s contribution to which is utterly miniscule, probably not even measurable. We should, nonetheless, consider adopting specific, region-wide, lifestyle changes as a means of raising awareness of this phenomenon and its implications. And we must, at the same time, take very seriously our need to convince the world of the importance of those who have caused this climatic shift, bearing the financial burden of the associated disasters that do not merely “befall”, but indeed pound, states like ours.
Colleagues, the issues that challenge us to take collective and decisive actions are, indeed, profound. Whether the issue at hand is security, crime, or protecting our region’s reputation globally, we must be resolute in our responses. And the people of the Community expect from us not only technical proficiency, but, indeed, visionary leadership. On the issue of security we understand the importance of regional and international co-operation – both as a matter of law-enforcement, and as a matter of crime prevention. We have worked together on this important issue, and I have every expectation that we shall continue to do so.
Our security apparatus and the mechanism that in large measure accounted for our successful hosting of world class cricket must continue to evolve and be the vanguard of our defence against the new and emerging threats to global peace and security. While we build strong collaborative ties with our traditional and non- traditional partners in strengthening our capabilities to address the real threats associated with 21st century criminalities, let us continue to commit the necessary resources and to devise creative means for the sustainability of our crime and security framework and the management and delivery of our agencies that have been established to sustain the enabling environment for growth and development in our respective borders.
Finally, Fellow Heads, Caribbean nations have traditionally been respected across the globe as bastions of peace, justice, and democracy. We have been able to enter any chamber and assume any role without anyone ever raising even the slightest question about our individual nation’s – or indeed our Region’s – honor. This is of incalculable value. Let us strive, with all our might, to keep it this way. Most importantly, let us commit ourselves to remaining alert, vigilant, and resistant to anything, within the region, that might taint this reputation that our forebears worked so very hard to build, and in a spirit of utmost faith and trust, bequeathed to us. This is the confidence with which we are to face our deliberations today.
|Posted by haimdatsawh on March 9, 2012 at 10:30 AM||comments (0)|
Bouterse urges ‘new beginning’ for Caricom
In the backdrop of a bleak report on the future of Caricom, the intersessional Heads of Government meeting got underway yesterday in Paramaribo with ringing calls for fundamental change underlined by Suriname President Desi Bouterse’s appeal for a “new beginning”.
The two-day meeting opened with speeches by current chairman, Bouterse; immediate past Chairman, Dr. Denzil Douglas, Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis and Caricom Secretary-General, Irwin LaRocque.
A recent damning external review highlighted Caricom’s plight and made recommendations on …..
|Posted by haimdatsawh on March 9, 2012 at 8:50 AM||comments (0)|
Education minister named to OAS committee
By OBSERVER News - Wednesday, March 7th, 2012.
Article Hits: 7
ST JOHN’S, Antigua – At the conclusion of the recent OAS Inter-American Ministers Meeting in Paramaribo, Suriname, Antigua & Barbuda’s Minister of Education Dr Jacqui Quinn-Leandro was elected to serve the Caribbean sub-region on the Executive Committee of the Inter-American Committee on Education from 2012 to 2014. The Grenadian Minister of Education was elected as the alternate.
The Minister of Education of Suriname, Raymond Sapoen, was elected chair, while the ministers of Costa Rica and Paraguay were elected vice chairs. Other ministers were also elected to represent North America, South and Central America and the Andean Sub-region.
During the meeting which was held under the theme, “transforming the role of the teacher to meet the challenges of the 21st century,” the ministers engaged in reflection and dialogue on the kind of teacher that is needed by the student of today, educational institutions as learning communities; and the role of governments in safeguarding an education of quality for all.
The Antigua & Barbuda delegation made a presentation on the relationship between governments and teachers’ unions. In it they outlined the historical relationship between the Antigua & Barbuda Union of Teachers (A&BUT) and the government and the best practices in forging a harmonious relationship.
The Antiguan panel included Dr Quinn-Leandro; Director of Education Jacintha Pringle; and General Secretary of the A&BUT Ashworth Azille. Their presentation was met with much discussion and debate, and the delegation was applauded for the more harmonious working relationship between government and teachers’ union in the interest of education in Antigua & Barbuda.
The meeting in Paramaribo is the Seventh Meeting of Ministers of Education led by the OAS. The first was held in Brasilia in 1998, and since then ministers have met every two years in various locations.
|Posted by haimdatsawh on March 6, 2012 at 8:20 AM||comments (1)|
Trinidad and Tobago's Indian-origin PM survives no-trust vote
Monday 5th March, 2012 (IANS)
For the first time in its 50-year history, the Trinidad and Tobago parliament sat for a marathon 27 and a half hours non-stop in which a vote of no confidence was moved against Indian-origin Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, but the motion was defeated.
The session began Friday, March 2 at 1.30 p.m. and closed at 5 p.m. Saturday. All 41 members -- 29 from the government and 11 from the opposition-- spoke in the house. One opposition member, Patrick Manning, is ill and is in Washington for treatment.
When the vote was taken, the full government bench voted against the motion.
Opposition Leader Keith Rowley had moved the motion on Persad-Bissessar and her 22-month old government -- comprising five coalition partners -- for not properly managing the economic, political and social issues in the country.
Persad-Bissessar said the objective of the motion was to get her fired and bring down the government, but the opposition failed.
She said that for 12 years, Manning, Rowley's former leader, had even described him as a "raging bull" and "completey out of control".
The prime minister, who visited India in January, quoted extensively from Central Bank reports that showed the economy was improving from the decline the government had met it with, when it took office in May 2010.
Finance Minister Winston Dookeran spoke of the numerous initiatives he has undertaken to bring the economy on a strong footing despite the critical financial situation all over the globe, especially in Europe. He said several international financial monitoring agencies have given Trinidad and Tobago positive ratings despite meeting a weak and depleted economy in May 2010.
Dookeran is an international economist and author of several publications and who has lectured several times at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.
There was loud support for Persad-Bissessar when she met thousands of placard-bearing supporters.
Persad-Bissessar is the first woman to lead this country since its independence in 1962. Her forefathers were among 148,000 people who came here between 1845 and 1917 from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh to work on sugar, cocoa and coconut plantations.
(Paras Ramoutar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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