– High-Ranking EU Diplomat Cautions Region Against Segmented Trade Market
The Gleaner – The region’s attempt at integrating into a single market is taking too long and the progress is moving too slowly, Director-General of the European Commission’s Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development Stefano Manservisi has charged.
Manservisi, who was discussing trade at a function at the Regional Headquarters of the University of the West Indies on Thursday, warned that the fragmentation in the Caribbean could prove to be a challenge to further expansion in trade between the two blocs.
“Your process of integration has been too slow, too weak,” Manservisi declared adding, “I know what I am talking about because if there is a region in the world that is able to set up a single market – the biggest in the world – with compromises, with rules, with the participation of everybody, it’s the European Union.”
He expressed willingness for the EU to continue to be a strong trading partner with this region.
But the director-general was adamant that the integration of the Caribbean was an essential component in deepening the relationship between the EU and the Caribbean.
Pointing out the relatively small size of countries that make up the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Manservisi further argued that a “single market has been the most powerful way to be protected from the most negative effects of globalisation”.
There is currently an outstanding report on Jamaica’s future in CARICOM, which was produced by a working group chaired by former Prime Minister Bruce Golding.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness has said that the report is being examined by Cabinet.
2- CARICOM countries to benefit from new PAHO agreement
WASHINGTON – CMC – Seven Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries are to benefit from a new multi-country strategy for technical cooperation in health through 2024.
The strategy was signed between the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts- Nevis, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
“This strategy is your vision of how PAHO/WHO can best support the work of your ministries of health in improving the health of their people,” said the Director of the PAHO/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), Dr. Carissa F. Etienne,
“It is aligned with your countries’ national health policies, strategies and plans as well as with established Caribbean-wide health goals and the United Nations Multicountry Sustainable Development Framework for the Caribbean,” she added.
The new strategy is the second agreement of its kind between PAHO and the seven countries and focuses on achieving previously unmet goals while also addressing new challenges the countries face, including health sector reform required to respond to the needs of aging populations, the growing burden of non-communicable diseases, and the health effects of climate change, among others.
PAHO said that the 2018-2024 Multi-country Cooperation Strategy for Barbados and Eastern Caribbean Countries is based on five strategic priorities: strengthening the countries’ health systems to advance universal health coverage and access; reducing deaths and illness from communicable diseases like HIV, tuberculosis and hepatitis B; achieving optimum family health throughout the life course; reducing the burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs); and strengthening preparedness and response to health emergencies and disasters while also reducing environmental threats and risks.
“We hope that the priorities defined in this strategy will provide the support you need in the coming years to continue to make your health systems more resilient and to ensure that you achieve universal access to health and universal health coverage, as well as your other national health goals,” said Etienne, who earlier this week began her second five-year stint as the PAHO/WHO director.
PAHO/WHO Representative for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean countries, Dr. Godfrey Xuereb, noted that the strategy was developed through a consultative process involving all the countries and representatives from the public and private health sector, other government ministries, nongovernmental organizations, civil society and key development partners.
Etienne said that the PAHO/WHO looks forward to continue working with other agencies and institutions, such as the Caribbean Public Health Agency, the University of the West Indies and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States Secretariat, to improve the health of the peoples of the Caribbean.
3 – Model criminal code for OECS to be discussed in Grenada
It is being organised by the Canadian government funded Improved Access to Justice in the Caribbean (IMPACT Justice) Project, in association with the Judicial Education Institute of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court.
The organisers said that the discussion of a harmonised Criminal Code is of special importance for the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) because the current situation is that in each of the member states differences in the language creating offences make it difficult for judges, who move between the OECS from time to time, to efficiently deliver justice.
“It is expected that the discussions will lead to the creation of a harmonized Model Criminal Code with accompanying and similarly harmonized criminal law legislation for the consideration of governments within the OECS,” they said.
Among the participants attending the two-day event will be Dame Janice M. Pereira, the Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, as well as judges, magistrates, the directors of public prosecution and criminal defence lawyers from the nine-member OECS grouping.
The Canadian High Commissioner to Barbados and the OECS, Marie Legault, as well as Professor Velma Newton, Regional Project Director of the IMPACT will address the final day of the conference.
4- Caribbean IDB Governors to meet in Jamaica
KINGSTON, Jamaica – CMC – Caribbean governors of the Washington-based Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) meet here later this month with a focus on helping the Caribbean embrace strategically, the reality of the digital revolution.
The seventh annual Caribbean Governors’ Meeting from February 26-27, will be held under the theme “Jump Caribbean” and the IDB said it wants the region to tap technology and to apply innovative methods as a means to solve problems, improve productivity, generate employment and advance development.
IDB Governors are expected from the Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, Suriname, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago. IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno, other senior IDB officials and Dr William Warren Smith, the President of the Caribbean Development Bank are also expected to attend the two-day meeting of the governors.
Global business leader Sir Richard Branson and Toomas Hendrik Ilves, the former president of the Republic of Estonia, will also participate in the high-level meeting to provide insight on how the Caribbean can take advantage of the opportunities for accelerating growth, building resilience to natural disasters, developing policies to improve productivity, and creating vibrant sustainable economies through the digital and technological revolutions.
“At the upcoming meeting, the Caribbean has the opportunity to seize the moment, to ignite the changes needed to create a better and brighter future,” said Therese Turner-Jones, general manager for the IDB’s Caribbean Country Department,
“As the leading development partner in the region, the IDB looks forward to fresh ideas and innovative perspectives that take full advantage of the digital and technological revolution. This is key to improving lives of the people of the region,” added Turner-Jones.
The meeting will include a series of bilateral and plenary sessions and is intended to prepare the Caribbean Governors and the IDB’s management for the substantive deliberations on the future direction of the institution that are anticipated at the IDB’s annual general meeting to be held in Argentina on March 22-25.
5 -No vote on Top cop
– A great disappointment, says PM
The House, meeting at Tower D, International Waterfront Centre, Port of Spain, unanimously agreed to defer debate on the President’s notification on the nominees for these three top positions and to establish a Special Select Committee to examine the process employed by the Police Service Commission (PSA) in arriving at the nominees.
Accounting firm KPMG and the PSC will be summoned to appear before the Special Select Committee, which has been mandated to report back to the House by March 31.
6- Govt. takes no decision regarding white sugar for manufacturing – Samuda
KINGSTON, Jamaica – CMC – The Jamaica government says it has no intention of forcing upon manufacturers the use of plantation white sugar as a substitute for refined sugar in the manufacturing process.
“It’s not the government’s intention to impose any strictures in promoting what, at this stage, is just a theory. It is going to depend largely on what you the manufacturers say. This is not something that Government wants to force on you. Nothing of the kind,” said Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Karl Samuda.
Samuda has said that no decision will be taken without agreement from members of the manufacturing sector.
A statement from the Ministry noted that the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) has asked the Sugar Association of the Caribbean to conduct regional consultations with manufacturers who use refined sugar in their manufacturing processes.
Currently, imported refined sugar is used in the manufacturing trade to make items such as sugary drinks and baked goods.
The statement noted while it is possible to use the less refined, regionally made plantation white sugar for this purpose, it will cost manufacturers more to do so.
Addressing a stakeholders meeting earlier this week, Samuda noted that the move to replace refined sugar with plantation white could prove beneficial to the region in the long term.
But he assured that the Andrew Holness government will work to find a solution that will mutually benefit the local sugar industry and manufacturers.
7- Venezuela frees 85-year-old govt. opponent after day of detention
CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuela late on Friday freed an 85-year-old activist, who is the sole survivor of a clandestine group that fought a 1950s military dictatorship, after he was detained by intelligence agents for a day.
“Full freedom for Enrique Aristeguieta and we’ll also achieve that for Venezuela,” said hard-line opposition leader Maria Corina Machado.
Aristeguieta is an outspoken opposition campaigner who regularly compares what he calls the “narco-tyranny” of socialist President Nicolas Maduro to the 1952-1958 dictatorship of Marcos Perez.
Aristeguieta’s Twitter feed had not yet been updated and the last message posted at about 4 a.m. Friday said he was being sought by Venezuelan intelligence agents in his home.
Authorities did not respond to a request for comment earlier on Friday on the detention.
Local rights group Penal Forum said Aristeguieta was one of 14 activists rounded up during the past week, among about 200 who are being detained by the Maduro government.
Critics say the ruling Socialist Party persecutes dissenters while officials insist they are acting legitimately against people plotting against the government with U.S. support.
8- St. Lucia launches ambitious agribusiness project
CASTRIES, St. Lucia – CMC – St. Lucia has launched a multi-million dollar project aimed at strengthening agribusiness operations within the context of climate change.
The US$1.8 million Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) funded Sustainable Agribusiness for Laborie and Environs (SABLE) project is intended to benefit farmers and fisherfolk mainly in the south of the island.
“The project is innovative as it will deliver financial support for the adoption of climate resilient practices and improve livelihoods for our members. In addition, the project explicitly connects market opportunities, investment capital, capacity building and technical support,” said Steven Auguste, president of the Laborie Co-operative Credit Union (LCCU), which is executing the programme.
He said this is being done through a blended financial intervention to support greater climate resilience, environmental and commercial sustainability of small agro production, and fishing in the south.
“The LCCU is extremely well positioned to facilitate and support the successful implementation of the proposed intervention in climate change adaptation of farmers and fisherfolks,” Auguste said.
LCCU general manager Lucius Ellevic said fisherfolks and farmers are not doing well because the systems and methods which are supposed to help them sell and generate revenue from their production have failed them.
“Thus is the salient area in which this project will address itself,” he said.
Prime Minister Allen Chastanet said the government fully supports the project and that it is the intention of his administration “to ensure that there is a clear market space for fresh fruits as well agro processing.
“That is why the development of the south is so critical,” he said, noting that development projects such as hotels which will soon commence in the south creating opportunities for farmers.
“What is taking place here is timely…I am appealing to farmers to make use of the opportunities we have provided under this project,” Chastanet said.
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