Zero Hunger Challenge Initiative in Carriacou

Dr. Malachy Dottin

Dr. Malachy Dottin

Beausejour, Carriacou – The 2008 Country Poverty Assessment (CPA) report concluded that nationally 37.7 % of Grenada’s population was absolutely poor, living below the poverty line, and thus could not simultaneously meet with their food and non-food needs.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Land, Forestry, Fisheries and Environment took a deliberate policy decision ion 2013 to launch and implement a Zero Hunger Challenge Initiative (ZHCI).

The budgeted U.S $11,308,000 programme is geared towards eradicating hunger, malnutrition and food security, and is already funded and supported by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the Government of Grenada.

In ensuring that this programme meets its expectations, the Ministry of Agriculture is currently visiting parishes throughout the tri-island state, conducting a series of discussions and assessing poverty data.

At a discussion held on the sister-isle of Carriacou, the National Authority for Zero Hunger Challenge Initiative (NAZHCHI) Chairperson, Dr. Malachy Dottin, said that although 2.2 % of Carriacou’s population is considered living below the poverty line, it is still a big issue to be addressed by the programme.

Dr. Dottin said that the action plan which outlined Economic Diversification of the Agricultural Sector, Health and Nutrition, Modernisation of a Social Protection System, Increased Reliance of the Poor, Poor People Income Generation Opportunities and Good Governance are among the key areas to help eliminate poverty on the sister-isles.

He added that under the ZHCHI, during the month of June, two (2)
primary schools and one (1) secondary school on the island will witness the implementation of a School’s Feeding Program and a Health Community Program to be directed by Director of Primary Health Care and Senior Medical Officer, Dr. Francis Martin.

For his part, Dr. Martin said the intention of these programs in the education system is geared towards securing children at an early stage before they become vulnerable to diseases.

Dr. Martin pointed out that there is still a lot of work to be done
and he is looking forward towards moving into different communities to consult with persons on possible ways of implementing effective programs for addressing poverty.

The implementation period of the Grenada’s Zero Hunger Challenge
Initiative is from 2015-19.

Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Labor, Legal Affairs, Carriacou and Petite Martinique Affairs and Local Government, Elvin Nimrod welcomed the initiative to the sister isles.

Minister Nimrod noted that the burden of disease, disability, and premature death has shifted from young children to adults during the productive years of their lives, and as such, there is an urgent need to improve the nutrition and health status of the men and women of our tri-island state.

Minister Nimrod is appealing to residents on Carriacou and Petite Martinique to get involved with the initiative in cutting down the 2.2% poverty on the two sister isles.

The poor man ah feel it!!!

Two years and counting the electorate is unfortunately regretting the decisions that they have made. The NNP administration has failed the people and today the entire country is mired in corruption, unemployment and uncontrolled poverty.

The overwhelming majority of the people are disappointed in the poor performance of the Prime Minister and the NNP administration. Many are silent because they are too ashamed to speak given the decisions they made at the last general elections.

From River Salee in St Patrick’s, to Telescope, Paraclete and Union in St Andrew’s, Mama Cannes and Corinth in St David’s, Victoria in St Mark’s, Gouyave, St John’s Happy Hill, River Road and Grand Anse Valley in St George, the cry of the poor man echoes throughout the alleys in the various communities. Their cries are falling on deaf ears since their Parliamentarians have absolutely no regard for them until the next general elections.

Why is it that so many Grenadians allow themselves to be fooled year after year by these selfish and unscrupulous politicians? Are Grenadians so uneducated and lack understanding and knowledge of what is happening around them?

Maurice Bishop and the revolution raised the level of consciousness of the Grenadian people through education. Given the present political, social and economic situation facing the nation and its people, it seems that this consciousness will only return to the people when his body is identified and given a proper burial. Until then the enemies of Maurice Bishop will continue to wreak havoc among the people.

Keith Mitchell led Grenadians down a path where they were too blind to see what was coming their way. His deceit and deception were shrouded in a blanket of promised pie in the sky jobs and more jobs.

Grenada’s unemployment rate is approaching 40%, while unemployment among the young people is approaching 70%.

Captain, the ship has sunk. The captain is nowhere to be found.

Chester Humphrey and Peter David seem to be paddling the remnants of the ship down to Caracas, Venezuela.

As a result of the level of poverty in Grenada, the poor people are suffering from all sorts of diseases, including stress, high blood pressure and even insanity. Young people are finding it extremely difficult to cope under the current situation. Their level of frustration is manifested in the increasing levels of prostitution, drug and alcohol abuse, crime and violence among the young population.

The Imani program isn’t accomplishing its goals and so the program is heavily criticised.

The electorate apparently votes in a general election for a better standard of living. This seems not to be the case in Grenada’s last general elections. The electorate voted for a litany of false promises, with many of them now struggling to make ends meet. It is a travesty when politicians mislead people to the extent that they become enemies with their own family members.

The vast majority of people who supported the NNP over the almost 20 years that party has been in power are poor people. Many of them haven’t been able to elevate themselves and their children from this level of poverty and when they get an opportunity they return to their dire social and economic circumstances.

Keith Mitchell seems to understand that these people are happy with their circumstances and as a result gives them pittances which they glorify as gold. It is one thing to be poor, but another to be poor and proud of your poverty.

Many adult men supporting the NNP for decades can’t put a decent roof over their heads. They have destroyed their life and future by consuming the daily diet of alcohol given to them by political activists working on behalf of their party.

While these poor people remain in perpetual poverty, Mitchell and his boys are millionaires and ‘fat cats’. One day these men shall pay for their sins against poor people. Nothing lasts forever and their demise is inevitable. What goes around comes around.

Despite all the brag and boast about the progress made by Keith Mitchell and the NNP, the results are NOT there to justify the rhetoric. Mitchell is responsible for the huge national debt that the country is facing. He is the person who implemented the structural adjustment program and took the country to the IMF.

It is a well known fact that, whenever a government is in bed with the IMF, poverty in that country increases. Jamaica is a case in point.

The electorate was duped by Mitchell and the NNP into believing that, if re-elected, the NDC would take the country to the IMF.

It is a case of treason and deceit when politicians treat the electorate with such a level of disrespect and dishonesty. It is just not fair to the country and its citizens when politicians go out of their way to deceive them in such callous and unsuspecting fashion.

The intellectual capability of thousands of Grenadians and their ability to think critically have regressed since after the demise of the revolution. Grenadians don’t read and so they can be easily fooled and misled as was the case in the last general elections.

The argument that the people voted for a government that they believe will deliver economic and social benefits to them is one of mere speculation. I am of the opinion and it’s the opinion of many persons that the average voter in Grenada isn’t analytical or knowledgeable enough to make decisions based on commonsense.

For example, when the NNP propaganda machinery criticised Nazim Burke, saying that he is building five houses, many ill informed persons believed, even if they could have verified that information in a country of 120 square miles.
Keith Mitchell and the NNP allegedly keep a certain percentage of the
population in poverty. The folks then turn out to be NNP diehard supporters since they become dependent on the party for their sustenance. To these folks NNP can’t do anything wrong. They are blinded by the ‘hand outs’ they receive and remain poor for the rest of their lives. One thing is certain and that is they are the voters to enter the polling booth on election day.

Mitchell has been in government and a parliamentary representative for decades, yet his constituency of St George North West has some of the poorest people in Grenada. The same can be said about St Mark’s with Claris Modeste as the MP.

Every election cycle they shed crocodile tears for the poor man. As soon as they get elected into office they do their thing so that they can continue to call the electorate poor, and rightfully so. They are indeed poor and vulnerable. They are vulnerable because they are not empowered by their MP. A damning indictment of gross failure.

Grenadians should wake up from their sleep and drunkenness and come to the realisation that there is an alleged conspiracy by the Prime Minister, the hierarchy of the NNP, big business, and other special interest groups to concentrate power, influence and wealth among a selected few.

The Prime Minister as leader of the NNP used the poor people of Grenada to his political advantage and now that he is in the twilight of his political career he has unceremoniously dumped the poor, identifying himself with the elite.

Having suffered over the years with an inferiority complex sometimes referred to as ‘the little black boy’ from Happy Hill, he has attempted to shed that label by allegedly associating himself and the NNP with the elitist and aristocrats in the likes of the Steele, Otway, De Allie, La Grenade etc.

The end product of this alliance and association is that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting much poorer. That is what they voted for.

Former Prime Minister Tillman Thomas’s vision for Grenada was that of a fairer society based on transparency, accountability and good governance. The rich voted against it because they love corruption, the poor voted against it because they lack the knowledge and understanding while receiving their ‘hand outs’ being stuck in dependency syndrome.

Change will come, however, with this change there should be a purging of the society, a breakdown of the old foundation and start anew. It is only then Grenada and Grenadians will realise their true potential.

The NDC made the gross error of not destroying the roots of the contaminated tree, allowing it to re-germinate, spreading its corrupt branches throughout the business community, security forces, media, trade union movement, churches, NGOs with a vengeance.

Darkness has overshadowed the land and, in the words of Peter Tosh, “Only the poor man ah feel it.” All the taxes have gone up and more hardship is yet to come. There is only one man to blame, the Prime Minister, the Emperor.

Grenadian Class

The St. Andrew’s Anglican Secondary School (SAASS) on April 10 reached a historic milestone – 70 years of existence.

Highlights of the SAASS celebratory march marking 70 years of existence

Highlights of the SAASS celebratory march marking 70 years of existence

SAASS, now located in the rural community of Telescope, St. Andrew, was the fourth secondary school to commence operations in Grenada with a three member staff, a single classroom and approximately 41 students.

Today the school is 725 students strong (500 boys and 225 girls), with 46 teachers, 13 Imani trainees and a 10-member Ancillary staff.

The faculty and staff last week Wednesday took to the streets of Grenville in a colourful parade in celebration of the 760th anniversary to showcase their many achievements.

“70 years is a long time and we have a lot to show for it,” declared an elated School Principal, Pamela Moses who led the march through the Town of Grenville.

“We are writers… we get most entry’s, we win competitions…we do quite a lot and we have great achievements occurring at the school…We are very happy, we do well in academics…our pass rates moved from 66 % to 79% so we are improving and we are doing quite well, she told THE NEW TODAY newspaper in an interview conducted during the march.

Principal of SAASS Pamela Moses leading the march through the Town of Grenville

Principal of SAASS Pamela Moses leading the march through the Town of Grenville

The march also saw the participation of former school principals Michael Pierre, who is the current Speaker of the House of Representatives in Parliament and former Sports Minister, Patrick Simmons, the one-time elected Member of Parliament for St Andrew South-east, where the school is located.

SAASS can boast a wealth of achievements and accomplishments over the years.
The school is a 22-timee Inter-Collegiate Games champion, with the Boys copping the title on 19 occasions, while the girls brought home the title three times.

The Boys and Girls from Telescope are also the 2012 and 2013 Grenada Electricity Services Ltd. (GRENLEC) Debate champions, following which the school was awarded a Solar Energy system to produce electricity for the entire facility, saving the school approximately EC$4, 000 monthly.

In 2011, SAASS entered the Grenada Postal Corporation/Universal Postal Union Letter Writing competition placing 2nd in the world, while in 2013 the school placed 2nd in the St. George’s University (SGU) Knowledge Bowl competition.

SAASS was the first co-educational institution in Grenada founded in 1944-45 by its first principal, Barbadian-born, Sir Samuel Graham, a former Chief Justice of Grenada.

The school started off in an upper room on Albert and Victoria Streets, and then moved to the Grenada Cocoa and Nutmeg Association (GCNA) building on Jubilee Street from which it was evicted following which classes were held at the Seamoon Pavillion.

In 1978, the school moved to its permanent home, which occupies approximately five acres of land in the village of Telescope.

This became a reality through private donations collected by a building committee, under the chairmanship of the late Reverend Herman M. Bhola and with assistance from Archdeacon A. H. Huggins.

SAASS has provided secondary education for hundreds of Grenadians, leading the way for the expansion of secondary education in Grenada.

The school has so far acquired an enviable record in academic studies. In 1984 past student Janice Malcolm won the Marryshow Award, while another past student Dennison Thomas was Grenada’s lone representative on the 1988 West Indies Youth Cricket Team to Australia.

Annoyance in the community

My heart aches and a drowsy numbness pain my sense.  I use this poetic phrase to enhance the above caption.  Since the year began the senior citizens in the Happy Hill Community have been plagued every weekend by the “Sugar Palace Bar” with very loud music from between 4-5 p.m until the wee hours of the morning minutes to 2 a.m.

The worse of these sessions was the weekend of March 20th & 21st – 2 nights in succession.  The latter ended after 1 a.m Sunday morning.  The Police and the Minister of National Security  who is the Prime Minister have been told on several occasions about this selfish, inconsiderate and diabolical behaviour and the responses were I or we will look into it.

This brings to mind the care, concern and appreciation for senior citizens who have a right to life as any other person in the community but what is worse is that the motto of the law men is and I quote, “To protect and to serve”.

There is also a law which states that no person or persons should be disturbing the peace to the annoyance of other people in the immediate surroundings. Apart from this, Shakespeare’s Macbeth puts it quite plainly that Sleep, after Food is Great Nature’s second course.

I would like to state further that it would be extremely disrespectful to the dear mother of the Minister of National Security who does not live in the immediate vicinity and is in her nineties. Added to that he also lives far away.  The most annoying thing is that the said proprietor received an Independence award – I keep wondering if it is for disturbing the peace on weekends.

Mr.Commissioner of Police, stop allowing yourself to be used as a rubber stamp thus giving me the impression that the operators of Sugar Palace Bar are untouchables. I am also getting the impression that something else goes on other than the sale of Carib, Stag and Guinness.

We the senior citizens of the said community make a special appeal to the relevant authorities to have this matter resolved as soon as possible.

Concerned Citizen

Perilous economic times

Some times I really have to wonder when I visit certain grocery shops and supermarkets and see the price that poor people have to pay for meats especially chicken.

I am also talking about minimum wage persons who are making 5 dollars an hour and who have to consume the worse, which is chicken back and neck – it is truly ridiculous because in order for them to stretch their dollar and feed their families, they have no choice.

At the same time, our health officials and other policy makers are telling us to eat healthy with a balanced diet. After examining the facts, about 90 percent of these low income people their meat consumption is only back and neck chicken.

Are we serious about building a healthy nation? Today there is more urbanisation of our people looking for better job opportunities in St. George’s, and more so Grand Anse in South St. George, hence the reason why so many agricultural lands get abandoned.

Other factors contributing to our problem is the lost of the banana trade by the WTO ruling. We are creating more squatter zones with other informal settlers and the shanty towns thus boosting the crime rate within the tourist belt.

I am talking about villages like Grand Anse, Mt. Toute, The Limes, Frequente,  Jean Anglais and many others.

The poor folks living in these areas suffer from poorer diet, high rents and utility bills, and high unemployment, pushing some of these vulnerable persons into prostitution in order to take care of their families.

Most of these households are headed by young mothers with three and four children to take care of. I have heard for so  many years that they are trying to bridge the poverty gap. But far as I can see with these politicians is just mouth open, and word jump out.

Could you imagine that ever so often, after finishing secondary school, over 1000 young persons coming from school have to join the work force. Not all of them can be entrepreneurs, for even the banks are not making life easier for these young persons who are trying to establish their own small business rather than depending on government.

Let us see how much this government said that they cared for poor people, they went on to implement a $25.00 tax on used tires and against the dealers with no consultation. Do you see any rich persons buying used tyres? Who is this government trying to fool? Wake up and smell the coffee.

Lots of Grenadians are becoming more disenchanted with the lies and deceit of the politricksters who continue to do the same thing year after year, and expect different results.

This is the same government that preach empowerment, and so much so to the young persons of this country. But Grenada as one of the few countries which was very fortunate in receiving an IT Centre from India-  that was very fundamental for the greater enhancement of the socio-economic development of Grenada and the sub-region.

But what the NNP did as soon as they got into power, they closed  it down. Who is fooling who? That’s the same NNP government in hindsight that went all over CARICOM and preach how Grenada will play a leading role by taking advantage of that IT Centre by embracing it and by helping other CARICOM countries with technological advancement  in the sub-region.

Always remember that all that glitter is certainly not gold.

Kennedy Jawahir

Challenging freedom – What are your beliefs?

When faced with issues affecting us as a people and a nation what do we do?. How do we address these concerns?. How do we break the glass sealing of gender inequality and stereotyping?

Some may describe it as being “controversial” but if you analyse it carefully you will see the merit through my concerns when it comes to addressing this highly sensitive issue.

I like quoting the words from reggae superstar, “Etana” never let them get you down, live your life and be free”. An individual must never be afraid to speak freely or express his/her concerns when it comes to gender inequality and stereotyping.

We have become a more homophobic society instead of solving problems and seeking solutions, we find ourselves creating more conflicts, putting band aid on problems and not being able to resolve it.

We are only making situations worse, because in most cases dialogue is needed to find a peaceful resolution to our ailing problems.

Slurs are used each day to describe these individuals – we teach our children to disrespect one another, we allow them to call one another names without doing anything about it, lack of respect has now become the norm of the day as we live in this “dog eat dog society.

Kudos to Groundation Grenada and Richie Maitland who are advocates on Gender inequalities – they have been leading the battle from the forefront, holding forums, educating the public on such sensitive issues.

I used the word “sensitive” because no one wants to talk about it – to them is like using obscene language in front of your mother and having to apologise for doing so.

These are issues we can’t run from and we certainly can’t hide from it, most people are very conservative when faced with these everyday challenges.

It’s in the media especially in the papers and on the TV you see different groups lobbying for changes in the system.

The way things are done and how others are treated that is where stereotype comes in. I believe everyone is to be respected regardless of age, sex, creed and religion –  no one should be denied those opportunities of freedom to be free to be whoever or whatsoever he/she chooses to be”.

It’s everyone’s right to have equality. No two persons are the same or alike, everyone is different and unique in their own special way, therefore we all have our fundamental rights and freedom to live and breathe in our own space.

This universe is big enough for everyone to co-exist together and it should never be a problem. We exist in this world “to love and be loved” and whatever differences we all share, should have never been a problem or hindrance in any one’s way.

I can’t stop you from being who you are as an individual – our sexual preferences may differ but that doesn’t give anyone the right to hate, if it’s my choice, society doesn’t have control over what life a person decides to live for there are no leaches on another individual life.

There is no need to hate or discriminate. There is something called “choices”. What does it have to do with another individual and how does it affect you – meddling where you don’t belong. I view this as an invasion of privacy and as the old saying goes, “we must live and let others live”.

Stigmatisation and discrimination of others who are different simply because of sexual preferences is a bad practice that society adopts – this is creating more conflicts among different ethnic groups and various organisations.

Scorning or hating another individual because of who he/she is, doesn’t make the world a better place, it simply doesn’t make you or me any better it makes us haters.

Remember we are all humans with a heart of flesh, not stone with blood running through our veins, unlike a few who have no love for humanity. We all stemmed from somewhere and we belong to a family.

Remember he/she is somebody’s child. Before you are willing to condemn or even point fingers at another, let’s put ourselves in their shoes, let’s think what it’s like to be that person and feel what they have felt because of you and your discrimination.

Is it because of you and your hating, because of you and your stereotyping and thanks to you the suicide rate went up? Why stigmatise against someone who is different simply because of their sexual preferences?

Are you happy with yourself when you laugh and call others names because you see him/her as being different? How comfortable are you with your own skin?

What will you do if your son or daughter should come home one day and say, mom or dad I’m different because of my sexual preferences? I’m not going to sugar coat nothing for no one, I will say it as I see it.

How will you deal with such issues? Will you hate him/her? Will you be a discriminator or a hater just like the others against your son or daughter?

If you do so, you have no love in your heart for what you gave birth to – the very said child you carried for (9) nine months loved and nurtured, the same child you breast fed and then this is what it all came down to a loveless mother or father, hating what you bring forth simply because of what he/she has become.

Jesus once asked his disciples “who do you say I am”, he did not want to hear what others said, he wanted to hear what those close to him had to say because in most cases the people who you think would be there for you can be the biggest hypocrites ever.

I have always appreciated individuals who are straight forward because, “I’m a tell like it is guy” – plain and simple. How would your life be different if you stopped making negative judgmental assumptions about people?

Let today be for the good in everyone you meet and respect their journey. It doesn’t matter what religious denomination you belong to or what’s your religious beliefs that doesn’t give you the right to be a hater or a discriminator of another person because of their sexual preferences.

The God that we all serve is a God of love and not hate. Christ came so that we might be saved through him, his message was one of love for one another, he did not come to condemn the world. Man has indoctrinated the world with their doctrine of hate for their fellow man.

For any concern to be addressed then better approach is needed – times have changed and ours eyes have opened to see and think outside of the box because people are not just locked in the box anymore for we all view things differently now.

The education system has been revamped, information is at our finger tip for this is the Age of Enlightenment.. I believe it’s time to end the stigma against gender inequality and stereotyping against individuals who are different because of their sexual preferences.

I’m not a supporter of discrimination, stigmatisation and neither will I support anyone who chooses to do so against anyone. Everyone is free to live the life he/she so chooses despite the consequences that may transpire as a result of their action as long as they understand I have no problem with their lifestyle.

90% of individuals go through life with regrets because they have been too scared of living the life they so desired of living. They have developed a phobia caring too much what others will think or say.

I’m not disputing the fact that it is morally right or wrong but it is the stigma that is shown towards those individuals. I think there are too many self righteous people walking around, they are the ones who have already won salvation because they are on their way to glory and he/she could do no wrong and I say this with no regrets.

Call me what you want that will not change who I am as an individual because at the end of the day, I will still be me, a true realist, a revolutionist, an advocate for change.

Those who should have led us to the promised land have idolised themselves as GODS and have poisoned our minds with what the European used to subdue and conquer black minds – it’s called Religion.
Most of them preach messages of hate contrary to the word of God – this is not an attack on religion but on rather those hypocrites that hide within those sacred walls.

You point fingers and judge others when you yourselves are not ever worthy to cast judgement because your lives are no different than they who you are trying to condemn.I will say this again – to address any problem there must be better approach because you will never get someone to change by stigmatizing, discriminating or by stereotyping.

Think of these words of wisdom – “Christ did not come for Saints but rather sinners. You could have found him in churches or synagogues and that only happened in his early years because he associated with the prostitutes, tax collectors, fishermen who I viewed as the kings of obscene language.

In the case of many others, he preached love and asked one another not to hate the other simply because you see them “as being a curse from God”.

So don’t just label someone if you are going to cast judgement on one, cast on all.

Brian Joseph

Orphans of Obama’s legacy?

SAUNDERSUndoubtedly both Presidents Raul Castro of Cuba and Barack Obama warrant credit for breaking the 54-year old barrier to the establishment of diplomatic relations between their two countries.  But, President Obama deserves greater praise because he took greater risks and bucked strong opposition in the United States Congress and from the anti-Castro Cuban-American community whose political clout is not insignificant.

He also showed considerable courage in removing Cuba from the US State Department’s list of State Sponsors of Terrorism (SSOT) on April 14.  He has been flayed by leading members of the Republican Party, including many of the Presidential hopefuls.  Republican Senator, Marco Rubio, a Cuban-American, who is also a Presidential aspirant, said Cuba should remain on the terror list, adding that “The decision made by the White House is a terrible one”.

Even the influential Wall Street Journal newspaper, in an April 15 Editorial, scathingly criticised Obama’s Cuban diplomacy, saying that it “has been one unreciprocated offering after another from December’s pledge to normalize relations to the global legitimacy he bestowed by meeting Cuba’s dictator to this free terror pass”.   The Editorial went on to speculate, unapprovingly, that its readers shouldn’t be surprised if the President’s lawyers are “inspecting the terms” of the US lease of Guantanamo Bay so as to return it to Cuba.

Successive US Presidents have maintained the US diplomatic cold shoulder and none has sought to remove Cuba from the SSOT list since it was imposed in 1982.  Not even in their last terms in office, when they had nothing to lose, did any President try to tear down the wall between the US and Cuba.

It is clear that Obama is a man of history which he has already made and is continuing to mould.  He has sought – and is seeking – to put a gentler, more tolerant face on American foreign policy.  He cannot do this on all counts.  There are theatres of conflict, particularly involving ISIS, that require stern action. But, it should now be without question that Obama’s Presidency has given the United States a more acceptable countenance globally and more particularly in Latin America.

Even with Venezuela where relations continue to be sharp over sanctions placed on several Venezuelan officials for alleged human rights violations, Obama has tried to offer an olive branch.  Prior to the Summit of the Americas in Panama on April 10 and 11, he dispatched a senior State Department official, Tom Shannon, to talk with Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro and Foreign Minister Delcy Rodríguez.

Two National Security officials also publicly declared that the US had “no hostile designs” on Venezuela, and Obama took the time to meet Maduro privately in the margins of the Panama Summit.  Afterwards Maduro is reported to have said that the conversation was “cordial, serious and frank” and could lead to the establishment of new diplomatic discussions to “respectfully open up relations in the next few days”.

Obama’s Caribbean policies give governments in the region less to rejoice about.  While the people and leaders of the Caribbean are delighted with the fact of Obama’s Presidency of the United States and regard him as a symbol of their own capacity for achievement, there is disappointment that he has not done enough to help them economically.

Right now the classification of the Caribbean as a ‘high risk’ area for financial services and the listing by the US State Department of all 15 Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries as either jurisdictions of “concern” or “major concern” for money laundering are causing indigenous and offshore banks to lose correspondent relationships with banks in the US. Without such relationships these banks will be unable to conduct international transactions, threatening their survival with dire consequences for Caribbean economies.

This matter was raised by Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister, Gaston Browne, speaking for Caribbean leaders at their encounter with Obama in Jamaica on April 9.   Obama promised to investigate the issue, particularly when Browne pointed out that all of the assets and transactions of the CARICOM financial institutions do not add-up to 0.1% of the global total. What will come of this is left to be seen, but having opened a direct line to Obama on this matter, it is up to  Caribbean leaders to ensure that he is provided with the hard evidence.

CARICOM countries can take some satisfaction from Obama’s Cuban policy.  When only Canada and Mexico maintained diplomatic relations with Cuba in the Western Hemisphere, it was Caribbean countries that led the way in establishing such relations in defiance of the US embargo.  They have also long called for the full normalisation of relations between the two countries as a matter of principle.

However, normalisation of US-Cuba relations has implications for Caribbean countries.  Cuba is already a major competitor in the vital tourism industry.  The number of Canadian, European and Latin American visitors to Cuba is greater than that of tourists to any CARICOM country.   In part, the larger number of visitors to Cuba is due to the fact that its prices are cheaper because of lower wages for workers.

Now, with Cuba off the SSOT list, the country will benefit from a number of things, including: eligibility for US foreign assistance and humanitarian aid; elimination of Private Right Action (meaning that the statutory authorisation for individual US citizens to pursue private claims against Cuba in US courts would be eliminated,  thereby facilitating trade, banking and international financial relations without the potential fear of asset seizures); the elimination of a rule requiring publically-traded companies to disclose to the US Securities and Exchange Commission their dealings with Cuba; and finally, the elimination of State divestment laws (some US states have laws or policies prohibiting investments in companies doing business with blacklisted countries).

Of particular significance to the Caribbean should be that, once the US Congress approves the delisting by May 29, Cuba will become eligible for loans from the World Bank and other international financial institutions.  Cuba will have the capacity to absorb such loans that will rapidly improve its infrastructure and its attractiveness for investment.  This emphasises the importance of CARICOM countries sharpening their own policies and working harder across the board to maintain their competiveness.

By the end of Obama’s Presidency, his courage and foresight could leave a more durable relationship between the US and Latin America.  Cuba is well on the way to benefitting from his Presidency.  The rest of the Caribbean should work to ensure they are not the orphans of his legacy.

(Sir Ronald Sanders is a Senior Fellow at London University and an International Relations Consultant)

Way forward for Nutmeg industry

This document gives  a ROAD MAP  for developing  the Grenada  Nutmeg Industry and the GCNA.

It is my hope  that  the  “Powers that be” use their  Technical Staff  to constructively  criticize  and Analyze the thoughts  put forward  or proffered forth in  this document.  Please note that  I am available  24/7  to expand  on  any  area  or areas that  wet your appetite at the following  address :- parrisg@spiceisle .com; 473-442-7330 ; 456-2068; and/ or 419-8028.  Please  also note that I am willing to Champion  any area or areas of interest.

The  Road Map  includes what  has to be done starting  NOW in 2015 and going forward  as follows:-
They include:-

(1).  Ownership  of the  GCNA

(2). Setting up a Limited  Liability  Company  to COMMERCIALIZE the Grenada Cooperative Nutmeg Association (GCNA);

(3). Setting up a true Food Plant to Grind and Package ALL  spices including  “Grenada Nutmegs”  &  mace  and other dry ingredients;

(4). Setting  up a Joint venture for  our Grenada nutmeg  oil production with  the West  India  Spice  Company;

(5). Setting up a Joint venture  relationship with the Grenada Nutmeg Cluster to manufacture Nutmeg  Pericarp products;

(6).  Real  Estate – for-

(a) Converting the Gouyave Processing Station & the Grenville Receiving Station to be Food grade

(b) Addressing  Solar Drying  for drying mace and drying/curing  Food
grade  Grenada nutmegs;

(c)Addressing the multi-million Dollar Lagoon Road  Complex

(d) Addressing  the Jubilee Street  in Grenville  now virtually owned by a Tenant

(e)   The  Moon Shadow park accreted  land and the  Bus Terminal at Grenville

(f)  The other 18 or so  properties  of GCNA

(7). The marketing  and sales of value  added  Nutmegs – ground, prepackaged Pacs, etc

(8). Modernizing  the  1947  Grenada  Nutmeg  Act

(9) Making the Grenada Nutmeg part of the Education Program  and  the livelihood of Grenada ;

Now  the Details

(1).  Ownership  of the  GCNA Assets.

We, the members  of GCNA must  own  GCNA and its ASSETS.
Capitalisation and how the ownership Instruments  would be distributed to individual members would come later.

Ownership of  GCNA  ASSETS  can be done like when as  Chairman of the Marketing  Board (MNIB), I got the MNIB  to own the land  bounded on one side by “Foodland” on Lagoon Road by working with the Government
Attorney General  Mr. Errol Thomas and  Attorney John of Hudson-Phillips to obtain the papers for the Land by means  of the Vesting Act rather than the Conveyancing ACT.  It is SIMPLE.

Setting Up  Limited Liability Company owned by  GCNA running separately of GCNA to make MONEY  for GCNA Members. This  Company should  have  private sector  Businessmen as its Directors to make Commercial  decisions.

Some of this  company’s actions  are:

* SETTING  UP A FOOD PLANT  TO GRIND &  PACKAGE  ALL SPICES AND OTHER DRY FOODS. This plant could easily be  set up by modifying  and improving the  BCN (Broken and Clean)  plant now located  at  Lagoon Road now linked  with Mr. Martin  Williams, a former employee of the GCNA, to grind & package Nutmegs.

Soon  No Nutmegs  will be exported in Crocus bags. All  the Hotels, Restaurants, Bakeries and  Businesses in Grenada  and  the Caribbean would be supplied  with Food Grade Ground  Nutmegs &  Mace  packed  in small Bulk Containers as required.

The various  Spice Traders for the Tourism  trade would be supplied
with  Food grade ground products such as Ground  nutmegs & Mace, Ground Cinnamon,  Ground Cloves, Ground Bois den/Bay leaf  etc. from this new Plant.

Whole Nutmegs and  other small packs of  Ground  dry  products would be professionally packaged in that plant. The earnings  from these value added  products  will be passed back to the GCNA.

Setting up  a Joint  Venture  Operation with West India Spice Ltd, to produce  Grenada Nutmeg Oil, etc.

Dr. Reginald Buckmire

DIGICEL welcomes statement from St. Lucia NTRC

Digicel has confirmed its strong support for the announcement by the National Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of St. Lucia (‘St. Lucia NTRC’) of a public consultation process in relation to the merger between Cable and Wireless Communications (‘LIME’) and FLOW/Columbus Communications Inc. (‘FLOW’).

The St. Lucia NTRC has invited members of the public/all interested parties to make submissions on the merger to the NTRC by Thursday 30th April 2015.

Digicel has previously publicly called upon the Regulatory Authorities in St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada to be mindful of the conditions imposed by the Regulatory Authorities in Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago; particularly in relation to the divestiture of duplicate fibre and related infrastructure assets created by the merger of LIME and FLOW’s networks.

In its decision published on 27th March, the Barbados Fair Trading Commission (‘the FTC’) confirmed the view that the merger would create ‘… anti-competitive effects … in the Fixed-voice (landline) telephony and Fixed Data (broadband internet)….’ markets.

Accordingly, the FTC imposed 14 separate significant conditions on its merger approval compelling LIME to promptly divest of significant overlap fibre assets in Barbados to a third party or parties to be approved by the FTC.

These compulsory divestments include fibre assets relating to 27,000+ homes passed by the Karib Cable network and an additional 28,000+ homes outside of the Karib Cable network; but within the combined LIME/FLOW networks.

The FTC also made its approval conditional on other specific conditions, including guaranteed consumer choice on service contracts, provision of pole and duct access to third party providers and retail price tariffing in the product markets affected by the strongly anti-competitive effects of the merger.

Digicel has submitted to ECTEL and to the NTRC’s in the affected countries that the merger of LIME and FLOW is, at the very least, every bit as serious a challenge to competition in key telecoms markets in St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada as it is in Barbados and that the anti-competitive effects of the merger are perhaps even more obvious in the OECS.

Accordingly, Digicel submits that these OECS regulatory authorities must also very seriously consider the remedies of overlap assets divestiture in the OECS in order to address these obvious anti-competitive effects of the merger.

Digicel Group CEO, Colm Delves, commented; “We very much welcome this intervention by the St. Lucia NTRC and its commitment to a rigorous regulatory examination of the proposed merger. This matter needs to be very carefully examined and monitored by the regulatory authorities in the OECS countries.”

Tourism Minister speaks on product development

Tourism sites and tourism products will be developed as Grenada seeks to bring something new to the different tourists who will be visiting the island, according to Minister of Tourism, Yolande Bain-Horsford.

Addressing members and supporters of the ruling New National Party (NNP) at a public rally on Sunday night, the St. Andrew South-west Member of Parliament said that at a recent meeting held in Miami, the operators of cruise lines called on Grenada to refresh its products as they were expecting something new on their yearly visits.

The female government minister exhorted Grenadians to contribute to the year round beautification of the island.

“This in on you too, the people, it is on you to keep the country clean, it is on you to keep your communities clean, your products clean. When you visit your sites don’t litter, plant flowers, decorate your communities and be nice to the people who come to your shores – smile, give them a good word”, she said.

“Those of you on the airport, those of you on the (tourism) site, that’s what they want ….they want to feel the vibe from Grenada, they want to feel the love and what you have to offer and that’s what it is all about because they can get so many things in so many other islands,” she added.

Minister Bain-Horsford pointed to a 15.4% increase in cruise arrivals for 2015 and that Grenada is looking forward to bigger and better things in the new cruise ship season.

“We will be having one of our largest cruise ship that ever came into Grenada coming in November, the Britannia and you’re talking about 4 or 5 thousand people on the street at the same time. So you have to prepare. Vendors you have to get your act together and you have to start developing other little products that could enhance your sales because when you have all these people coming to your shores, you must have the things to sell for them,” she told party supporters.

The Tourism Minister said that the island’s government is looking at developing new sites to enhance visitor vacationing.

“We’re looking at new sites, you must have heard of Zip Lines. We have discovered a very important site but I wouldn’t tell you that, we are going to wait until we formally open that beautiful area.

“While in that meeting in Miami I can tell you that there are islands (that) didn’t have any sites or any products, no existing natural beauty and no developing man-made areas that people can come and enjoy but we have all of that, so we just have to improve and enhance on those sites.

“We have been visiting all the sites, we have been looking at the operations of the sites, how these sites are being operated. If people are doing what they have to do, we are making sure that the sites are safe,” she said.

In recent years, tourism has overtaken the key agriculture sector as the number one foreign exchange earner for the island and the provider of the bulk of jobs for locals.