Ariza gives St. David its first ATM

Persons using the Ariza Credit Union’s most recently installed Automated-Teller Machine (ATM) in St. David have an opportunity to win extra money in the company’s ongoing ‘Stash of cash’ promotion.

The newly installed ATM located opposite the St. David’s Police Station

The ATM was launched last week in the community of Petite Esperance, just opposite the St. David’s Police Station.

As part of the promotion, which is geared at creating greater awareness about the newest addition to the Connex network family, extra cash amounting to $2, 500.00 was placed in the machine allowing for lucky persons to win extra cash with the use of their debit or credit card.

The promotion is an initiative of Ariza and is being facilitated by the Grenada Cooperative Bank Limited (GCBL) through the CONNEX network, shared between the bank, Ariza and the Caribbean Credit Cooperation.

The first ATM in the ‘virgin parish’ became operational on May 28 following a blessing and ribbon cutting ceremony by Father Carl Haynes of the Roman Catholic Church and former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Meryl Forsythe.

Also in attendance were community leaders in St. David, government officials, Ariza staff and members, several persons associated with the credit union movement and well-wishers.

Chief Executive Officer of Ariza, Lucia Livingston-Andall, who is also a member of the St. David community, told the gathering that the introduction of the new ATM was more than just another service being provided.

She said that in actuality it is the continuation of a dream “to make a difference and build the community we are part of,” adding that, “while we recognise the need to do daily transactions; we must not forget the credit union concept of thrift saving and wise investments.”

President of Ariza, Javan Williams expressed how important it was for Ariza to make ATM services available to members in their own backyard, noting that this new service allows members and the community alike, to save on transportation costs and time.

The brainchild of the Connex brand and representative of Grenada Co-operative Bank, Floyd Dowden who is the Executive Manager of Operations and Administration at GCBL, made brief remarks in which he congratulated Ariza on this milestone achievement.

“The new ATM at Petite Esperance came from the common goal between Ariza and Grenada Co-operative Bank Limited of surpassing customers’ expectations through its Connex network”, he said.

“Following its brand promise of financial freedom, Ariza continues to implement initiatives that simplify and enhance the lives of its members”, he added.

Representing Parliamentary Representative for the St. David’s constituency, Oliver Joseph at the ceremony was his personal assistant Brian Mc Sween, who noted that “the new ATM in St. David is a testimony of Ariza’s commitment to meeting you where you are and providing financial freedom.”

The Ariza/Connex ATM is the first of its kind to be launched by a financial institution in St. David.

ECCB introduces new family of Polymer Notes

The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) has made history in the Caribbean by being the first Central Bank in the region to launch a family of Polymer Bank Notes.

Chairman of the ECCB Monetary Council Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell and Governor of the ECCU, Timothy Antoine at the head table

Governor of the ECCU, Timothy Antoine, was in Grenada last Thursday for the official launch and unveiling of the $50 Polymer Note, which bears his signature and the image of the former Governor of the ECCB, the late Sir Dwight Venner.

The ceremony, which was attended by the wife of Sir Dwight, Lynda Venner, was held at the ECCB Agency Office at Monckton Street in St. George.

According to Antoine, the notes will be fazed out, where you would see the 100, 20, and 10 dollar notes being issued around September, 2019, and the five dollar notes, around September, 2020.

“The circulation of the EC notes will be fazed. As unfit Paper Notes are returned to the Central Bank, and our current inventory of Paper notes is depleted, they will be replaced by our Polymer Notes. Therefore, as a practical matter, the public ought to expect that both our Paper and Polymer Notes will be in circulation at the same time, and I want to assure you that they are both legal tender,” he said.

The Grenadian-born Antoine stated that the rationale behind the move to switch from paper to polymer was to enhance security and usability of the EC Notes.

He said: “In making our recommendation to the Monetary Council, the ECCB considered the following options – one, cotton paper, which is what we have now, our paper notes, two Cotton/Polymer combination, three, endurance high durability paper, and four, Polymer. From an economic standpoint, Polymer Notes are more cost effective than paper. Although Polymer notes are more expensive to produce upfront, their extended lifespan means that the notes are replaced less often”.

The ECCB Governor indicated that there would be a reduction in transportation and handling cost, which will in turn reduce the overall cost of cash for the ECCB, Commercial Banks, and Credit Unions.

“Compared to paper notes, Polymer Notes are cleaner – resistant to dirt and moisture, more secure – they have advanced security features which make them harder to counterfeit, more durable – they last at least three times longer than paper, and they are more environmentally friendly. Consequently, fisher folks and vendors and the people of the ECCU will soon have in their hands bank notes that are thinner, safer, and stronger,” he remarked.

ECCB Chairman Prime Minister Mitchell hand Polymer Note bearing the image of deceased former Governor, Sir Dwight Venner to his wife Lynda Venner

One of the more significant feature of the new Polymer Notes is the addition of Braille to make it easier for the visually impaired to conduct business.

Chairman of the ECCB Monetary Council, Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell of Grenada stated that the launch of the new family of EC Polymer Notes provides a clear demonstration of the bank’s leadership, innovation, and commitment to protecting its currency.

Dr. Mitchell said: “This is therefore, a significant achievement for the bank and by extension for all members of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union. It was just over a year ago that the Monetary Council, acting on the advice of the bank, took the bold decision to change the material on which the EC Bank Notes are printed from paper to polymer.

“…The Council, which I now have the honour to chair, was convinced that the polymer substrates were more durable. From a security standpoint, the new polymer notes will allow for the introduction of more advanced features to better protect the EC currency, making it even stronger, and in a world of increasingly sophisticated criminal activities, security is foremost consideration among all of us,” he added.

Representative from the Resource Centre for the Blind, Sherry Hamlet, welcomed the initiative to assist the visually impaired.

“I know that for some of you this change is not as weighty as it is for me. After all, the paper notes that we have now, they are beautiful, they’re known all throughout the world for their beauty.

These Polymer Notes, however, I have had the blessing and the honour to engage with them before hand, and I can tell you when you hold this in your hand, it engages the senses in a way that is far more tactile. It’s amazing that something that seems like a small change can make such a big difference in the lives of so many people.

“…So, for people like myself, people who have lived and achieved with visual impairment all of my life, this is a tangible commitment by my government, by my region, that says that my right to independence, to equality, to privacy is just as important as everyone else’s, everyone who is regularly sighted.

Hood files another unfair dismissal claim

Since his return to private practice in October 2017 after a 4-year-stint as Attorney General to the Keith Mitchell-led government, Attorney-at-Law Cajeton Hood, has taken up several court matters literally challenging the authority of the administration on treatment meted out to public officers.

Attorney-at-Law Cajeton Hood

The latest action taken by Hood is on behalf of former Customs Officer Patrick Pysadee who worked at the Department for 28 years without a promotion and approximately six (6) years ago was transferred to the Central Statistics Office, where he claims to do close to nothing on a daily basis.

The former AG has a claim for unfair dismissal at the Supreme Court Registry on behalf of Pysadee.

Hood spoke of the court case during a local social media programme in which he claimed that his client was “refused promotion over the years while junior officers have been promoted ahead of him.”

The attorney charged that his client was being “ victimised “all because (while working) on the airport, he did the right thing and refused to clear some alcoholic beverages.

“He (the client) said to the airline official, I can’t do it (clear the alcoholic beverages because) I have to follow the Customs Act,” which stipulates a particular section at the airport to clear alcoholic beverages).

According to Attorney Hood no arrangements were made to have the bond open on that particular Sunday.

“So, he (Pysadee) worked at Customs for 28 years and was moved from Customs for that reason – that’s what we are saying to the court, those are my instructions and he has been in Statistics, approaching six (6) years, since 2013, by passed for promotion because he dared to stand up for what he learned in training,” he said.

Well-placed sources told THE NEW TODAY that Pysadee refused to facilitate the entry of several bottles of wines for a high-ranking member of the NNP regime as the shipment was not properly documented for entry into the country.

Attorney Hood is squaring off against the Mitchell-led Government on behalf of several persons including secondary school Teacher Donna Lusan for the unlawful deduction of her November 2018 salary, ex-Marketing Board CEO, Ruel Edwards, who is claiming unfair dismissal from his high paying job as Head of Economic and Technical Cooperation in the Ministry of Finance and President of the Public Workers Union (PWU) Rachel Roberts, who is also claiming among other things, unfair dismissal from her post as Senior Administrative Officer in the Ministry of Health late last year.

“It has become more prevalent over the years to remove public servants who are trained in certain areas of government to remove them and just place them in some other part of the public service …it is a waste of talent and public funds and it is wrong,” he said.

“Ossie” Found Guilty of Patel Robbery

Ossie as he exited the St. George’s No. 1 High Court after the guilty verdict was handed down on Wednesday

The notorious Aldin Phillip better known as “Ossie” and “Lexus” was on Wednesday found guilty of Robbery with violence and Possession of a firearm in a split 7 -2 verdict, handed down by a 9-member jury at the St. George’s No. 1 High Court.

The jury handed down the verdict just after 5.00 p.m. before trial judge, Madam Justice Paula Gilford who will sentence Ossie for the crimes on July 9.

It was the Crown’s case during the trial that Phillip, along with three other men were responsible for the robbery at the Belmont home of St. George’s businessman Mahindra Patel on December 22, 2015 in which they used firearm to steal over EC$15, 000.00 from the house where Patel lived with his wife and son.

Ossie now faces a maximum sentence of 30 years imprisonment for the charge of Robbery with Violence and a lesser penalty of 20 years for Possession of a firearm.

PSC REMOVED AS PARTY IN SALARY DEDUCTION CASE

The matter involving the Government of Grenada with respect to the salary deduction of a teacher made during industrial action last year, came up for hearing Monday before the High Court.

The case was brought by secondary school teacher, Donna Marcelle Lusan with the defendants being the Cabinet of Ministers, the Minister of Finance, the Public Service Commission (PSC) and the Attorney General.

Former Attorney General Cajeton Hood is the lawyer who filed the court papers on behalf of Lusan who is working at St. Joseph’s Convent-St. George’s.

The Public Service Commission was successful in its application to be removed as a party based on its constitutional duties.

On the substantive issue of the salary deduction for days not worked due to strike action, Justice Godfrey Smith encouraged the parties to settle since the claim amounts to about $500, according to a GIS release.

The issue remains whether Government has a right to deduct salary for periods not worked during an industrial dispute. The employee or claimant in this case, withheld labour and therefore Government withheld wages for the same period.

The outcome of this case will have significant implications for the wider public service and constitutional law in Grenada.

A date for the hearing of the matter has not yet been set.

Legal sources told THE NEW TODAY that the Keith Mitchell-led government would be hard-pressed to win the case as it cannot point to any law that gives it the right to deduct the salary of any public officer in Grenada.

An experienced lawyer said that the only body that is authorized under the Grenada Constitution to order the docking of salaries is the PSC itself and not the Cabinet.
Public sector workers in Grenada have two members sitting on the commission.

NATIONAL CEMETERY

It is with great concern that I am asking the following question – are you satisfied with the condition in which we are burying “our dead”?

For example, looking back many years ago, up to this present time, have we been finding “Virgin Spots” to dig new graves? Now although I asked that question, based on my observation I can say that we are not up to that standard because if you take a sober look at our cemeteries around the island, you will agree that the “Virgin spots” in some of them are almost used-up and fully turn our cemeteries into mass graves, and this is a “Sacrilegious Act” we should avoid.

So here is my solution:-

(1) The Grenada Conference of Churches, The Undertakers and Civil Society should sit with parliamentarians to help form a “Burial policy”.

(2). The fact that we have 110,000 persons living on this island “Grenada” that measures about 76,800 acres of land, then one (1) cemetery in a central area could solve our problem for the next 70 years, agreeing that St. Andrew’s being the most central of the parishes, sharing its borderline with the others, then at least 30 acres of land can be allocated there for a “National Cemetery”, where a double chamber church, all religion inclusive will be building to accommodate (2) funerals at the same time, then these funeral processions will be from that church to the grave sites, making funeral processions free from vehicular traffic.

Meanwhile, I know this will cost some money so this is the right time to start lobbying groups like the Grenada Diaspora in finding this project that will bring some sanctity to our final place of rest and honour.

While on this note, I want to send a message to my brothers and sisters in “Guyana” that with the good news of the discovery and investment in oil, that they should first build a “Shrine” in honour of the 918 persons that died in the Jonestown Massacre in 1978 as doing this will bring a level of sanity to their nation.

Michael Modeste

Peep inside SMC books

Auditors are now investigating the books of SpiceMas Corporation (SMC), the body which manages Grenada’s annual Carnival festival.

Newly installed SMC CEO Kelvin Jacob was not available for a comment on the issue

The corporation’s debt is said to be in the region of EC$1-million with dozens of contractors and service providers owed over several years.

When approached, newly appointed Chief Executive Officer of SpiceMas, Kelvin Jacob said he would not disclose the amount that the corporation is in the red by, although this figure was requested weeks ago at a media launch of the 2019 Carnival.

At the time Spice Mas officials had given a commitment to disclose the figure as it was not readily available at the time.

But Tuesday in a telephone conversation, Jacob said he would prefer to focus on plans for the 2019 season and not on the amount of money owed by the Corporation.

“We don’t want to disrupt the public now talking about the debt. People know that Spice Mas’is in debt. We don’t want this negative news”, he said.

Jacob stated that plans are going well for the festival, artistes are registering to participate and events are being launched.

According to well-placed sources, the SpiceMas body has not been audited in about five years and that State auditors have already investigated the 2015 and 2016 years and are now looking into the 2017 and 2018 financial records.

A major area of concern is said to be the arbitrary deferment of certain outstanding payments which made it appear as if the Corporation’s debt was decreasing, although creditors had not agreed to write-offs.

THE NEW TODAY understands that letters have been sent to several creditors requesting verification of outstanding invoices for services provided to SpiceMas over the years as this is a standard practice when an audit is being conducted.

Creditors include Southern Waste which provides portable toilets for SMC events and the Grenada Cultural Foundation (GCF) for services and the National Stadium Authority.

The Corporation is said to have faced increased expenses over the last four years while private corporate sponsorship had shrunk tremendously.

A source said that sponsors had been reluctant to contribute financially to the hosting of Carnival, citing negative attitudes from management.

The former CEO, Kirk Seetahal who had tendered his resignation prior to the 2018 Carnival, publicly complained about sponsors requesting complimentary tickets for events, as part of their sponsorship.

In 2018, when Spice Mas Corporation received a cheque for EC$35, 000 from mobile company Digicel, officials had hailed the company as the third largest sponsor, after government and the National Lotteries Authority.

Both government and NLA provide hundreds of thousands of dollars annually for the festival.

Flow, formerly Lime, had been the largest non-State sponsor and by 2015 the company had cut their support to quarter million dollars, down from EC$350, 000.

Eventually sponsorship dwindled to EC$30, 000 and finally the company pulled out from direct sponsorship.

SMC also lost its Grenada Breweries sponsorship which was EC$100, 000, when the Corporation rescinded the company’s pouring rights deal and opted to run its own bars at all official SMC events.

The corporation also did not do well with a magazine and T-shirts production, which had resulted in a spike in expenses.

On Tuesday Culture Minister Nolan Cox confirmed that the audit was being conducted and said that once completed it will be tabled in the Parliament and made public.

Historically audit reports are presented in the Parliament at least one to two years after being completed.

Cox admitted that the Ministry of Culture had not requested an audit of the SpiceMas accounts in several years.

The Minister was also unable to say what the current debt burden of the Corporation is, though he said there might be some adjustments.

He said the National Stadium Authority for instance, has responded to audit inquiries with an invoice amount greater than what is listed in the Corporation’s books.

NDC Supports Universal Health Coverage

The 72nd World Health Assembly (WHA) was held in Geneva, Switzerland last month, May 2019 and the delegates adopted three resolutions relating to Universal Health Coverage (UHC). The resolutions are expected to be acted upon by delegates when they return home, since these are the recommended approaches to strengthen our health systems and provide quality health coverage for the entire population.

These resolutions require member states to implement recommendations agreed upon in 2018, which would strengthen Primary Health Care (PHC) to “have quality, integrated health systems and empowered individuals and communities”. It also suggests that attention be placed on Community Health Workers, who should be in the frontline of delivering PHC.

The resolutions supported the organising of a High-Level Meeting at the United Nations in New York during September 2019 to discuss Universal Health Coverage and finally the resolutions asked Member States to “accelerate progress towards universal health coverage with a focus on poor, vulnerable and marginalized individuals and groups”.

We should all agree that the health of a nation is its greatest wealth. It appears however that this NNP administration is squandering the Oil and Gas wealth of our nation and steadily compromising the health of our population. What have the people of Grenada been hearing from our Government? Instead of reporting on the resolutions on UHC, as agreed to in Geneva, the Minister of Health is selling National Health Insurance (NHI) as the approach to improve our health system.

While individual responsibility is extremely important in maintaining a good health status, the policy makers are responsible for ensuring a health system that is holistic and works for the benefit of all. Implementation of the NHI is only a part of, not the final answer to, alleviating our troubles in the health sector. In fact, without a broader focus on UHC, the NHI scheme will collapse. Implementing UHC is essential to guaranteeing the population comprehensive quality and effective health services.

When we look at the state of Grenada’s health services, it has never been worst. Our health indicators over the last 25 years show a constant increase in the prevalence of diabetes, hypertension, cancers, heart disease and depression, among others. People are hardly using our community health services and are having tremendous difficulties seeing a specialist and most cannot afford to pay them. Poor people have to endure all kinds of stress to access health care services today, having to resort to motorcades and donation sheets to pay for health care.

Our hospital services are constantly under pressure with quality of service deteriorating rapidly. Very little attention is given to mental health. Our nurses have not been treated with love and respect and are moving to greener pastures. Grenada is about to lose another batch of senior nurses and the government does not seem to care.

The morale of health workers is at its lowest and staff are going through the motion trying hard to maintain their professionalism. The Primary Health Care program is not functioning and this Government has no idea what to do.

Leadership of the health sector is a critical ingredient in maintaining a strong health system and this is the main problem with the Grenada health system today. The Theme set for World Health Day by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for 2018 and 2019 was “Universal Health Coverage: Everyone, Everywhere.” This celebration took place on April 7th and we heard nothing from our Minister of Health to mark the occasion, but we will certainly see representation at the meeting in NY next September.

Despite going on a Retreat on Health, the government is yet to state their position on UHC. The NDC calls on the government to have a national dialogue on UHC that approaches health reform in a comprehensive way rather than their limited focus on NHI. The resources currently being used on NHI can be spent much more effectively.

Despite the glaring situation in our health sector this government is acting in a heartless manner focusing all its attention on how people will pay for health care services when they are sick, rather than promoting policies that will keep them healthy. How can the Government think of taxing people more to implement a program that is not focusing on an integrated, comprehensive approach to health?

The push towards NHI must be done within the context of UHC and the problems and solutions of our public health system must be clearly identified. While discussions on NHI is currently taking place with Grenadians, the course is already set for implementation in early 2020. This is another indication of the government’s lack of understanding of what genuine consultation is all about.

The NDC is not convinced that this process will lead to successful implementation unless we follow the recommendations agreed upon at the WHA in May.

The NDC is committed to implementing UHC within the context of the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s). The party believes in the importance of genuine consultation that will allow us to fully understand our realities and we are committed to going through that process. We will then be better able to develop policies consistent with human development.

Dialogue with our health workers must be a priority and the NDC will listen to them. How can we speak of major health reform without appreciating the importance of their input? Our health sector lacks leadership and the NDC calls on the Prime Minister to replace the current Minister of Health with someone who appreciates the importance of people.

The health of our nation is the wealth of our nation. Let us advocate for improved quality, accessibility and affordability that is provided in an equitable manner for all Grenadians. Let us discuss and implement Universal Health Coverage.

(The above reflects the views of the main opposition National Democratic Congress)

6th Road Fatality for the Year

A St. John family was plunged into mourning on the weekend as Grenada recorded its 6th road fatality for 2019.

Teddy Fleming – lost his life in a road accident last week Saturday

Dead is 30-year-old Mt. Granby resident, Teddy Fleming, who died after the motor bike he was riding along the Lance-Aux-Epines main road collided with a black van last week Saturday just after 1.00 p.m.

According to Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Desmond Richards, who was part of the police investigating team visiting the scene of the accident, Fleming was heading in the direction of the Sugar Mill round-a-bout from inside Lance Aux Epines when the collision occurred.

ASP Richards said Fleming was pronounced dead by the medical practitioner who was called to the scene of the accident.

THE NEW TODAY understands that the impact of the collision knocked Fleming of his motor bike and into the path of an incoming motor car, which a source said ran him over before coming to a complete stop.

“He was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident,” a well-placed source said.

Fleming’s body has been entrusted to the Otway Bailey Funeral Home with funeral arrangements pending.

Edward Seaga: A Caribbean Enigma

Edward Seaga was a great Jamaican patriot well deserving of the many tributes that have been paid to him concerning his devoted service to his country. But, he was not a regionalist and his tenure as Prime Minister of Jamaica, from 1980 to 1989, contributed to the deceleration of the regional integration process.

In January 2015, he said of the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) that “It became the syndrome of sleep. It has no economic value whatsoever. It just keeps putting forward new directions to grow, but nothing happens”.

Seaga measured CARICOM’s usefulness through a single prism which could roughly be described as the trade benefits it brought to Jamaica. As Trinidad and Tobago became the dominant exporter of goods to all CARICOM countries because of its oil subsidies, challenging Jamaican manufacturers in their own domestic market, Seaga saw little usefulness for Jamaica in CARICOM.

In a 2016 newspaper article, he declared: “Jamaica, as a misfit, has no role to play and, accordingly, should play a selected role like The Bahamas in CARICOM”. In other words, Jamaica should leave the Common Market aspect of CARICOM and participate only in the Community dimension such as functional cooperation.

Seaga did recognise a foreign policy opportunity in CARICOM if it could serve the interests of Jamaica as he saw it. That was why in 1982 when a CARICOM Heads of Government conference was proposed by the Government of Antigua and Barbuda to end a 7-year hiatus when no conference could be held, he leapt at the opportunity to host it in Jamaica.

As background, Seaga was the first head of government, globally, to be invited to the White House in January 1981 when Ronald Reagan became President of the United States. Two years before in March 1979, the New Jewel Movement, led by Maurice Bishop, had seized power in an almost bloodless coup in Grenada, and had drawn close to Cuba – a matter of grave concern to the US administration.

Reagan is reported by the New York Times to have said to Seaga, at a White House reception, that he was concerned over ”instability being inflicted on some countries” in the region by outside political forces. It was a precursor of things to come.

Seaga described the leadership of the region at the time as “largely a legacy of the original leaders which all came from a Labour Party background in England and a socialist background in general… they saw the building up that was taking place in Grenada and expected the radical left in Grenada to be able to get its way”.

Therefore, when, in 1982, V.C. Bird, as a veteran Caribbean integrationist and leader of the then newest independent CARICOM country, called for an end to a 7-year period of no Heads of Government Conference and proposed that he would host a meeting in Antigua, Seaga offered Jamaica instead. Bird readily agreed, seeing more value in holding the meeting than bickering over its venue.

At the November 1982 meeting, held at the Americana Hotel in Ocho Rios, Seaga sought to convince fellow leaders to expel Grenada from CARICOM, citing “the right of a people to change a government in elections free and fair and free from fear”. His efforts failed. The assembled leaders were unconvinced of the wisdom of expelling a member state and were doubly persuaded by the argument of V.C. Bird, one of the original signatories to CARIFTA in 1965 and a stalwart of the West Indian Federation, that no Caribbean people should be excluded from the community.

It was the implosion of the Grenada government in 1983, including the assassination of Maurice Bishop that provided Seaga with the opportunity to galvanise already willing leaders in Barbados and the OECS countries to support him in backing a US invasion of Grenada on a contrived invitation from the Governor-General, Sir Paul Scoon.

In the event, there was never any doubt in Seaga’s mind that his principal role in the Grenada invasion was anything but the right thing to do. He recalled afterwards that in Grenada, “there were five million rounds of ammunition – that’s one for every man, woman and child in the entire English-speaking Caribbean. There were a large number of assault rifles, field camps, a field kitchen, a field hospital, etc.” As he saw it, “They were preparing to provoke attacks in other Caribbean Commonwealth countries”.

The Caribbean integration project – the strength in unity – that it brings to every Caribbean country, depends on the leadership that it is given. At times of committed leadership, regional integration has blossomed; in other times of lukewarm or disinterested guidance it has stalled and even reversed.

Seaga had all the qualities of leadership that could have driven CARICOM to greater heights, but he saw Jamaica’s destiny in a greater alliance elsewhere and he pursued that objective diligently.

His lukewarm attitude to regional integration should not detract from the role he played on the wider international stage in causes that were vital to racial equality, social justice and economic improvement. He played a particularly important role in weakening the Apartheid regime in South Africa which should never be forgotten.

After trade sanctions failed to shake the Apartheid regime because of sanctions busting and secretive deals, it was he who proposed an attack on the rand (the South African currency). Learning from the calamitous effect on Jamaica of the loss of value of its currency, he advised that “once the rand started to fall in value, all that had been built up over the decades by the elite of South Africa would start to fall with it.

Trade would be dislocated because South African goods would be cheaper for exports, but far more expensive for imports, and a dislocation of trade and investment would result in adverse movement of the exchange rate. This, they couldn’t deal with”. He was right. The subsequent assault on the rand had its effect and played a role in forcing the Apartheid regime to negotiate its own demise.

On a personal note, I got to know Edward Seaga through a mutual friend, the late and dear Derek Mahfood, and I enjoyed several conversations with him characterised always with respect, notwithstanding disagreement. His significant and defining contributions to making Jamaica a great nation, to music and musicians in Jamaica and to the development and recognition of Jamaican culture have all been well documented and rightly recalled at his passing.

I relate one story that gives an insight to his humanity. On October 31, 1981, the eve of Antigua and Barbuda’s independence, he attended a party at my home where other Caribbean leaders were present. He had noted that my wife, Susan, and I had a helper, Josephine – a Rastafarian lady when Rastas were accorded little regard in Antigua; a situation well-known to Seaga. Before he left the party, he asked to meet her. He went into the kitchen, took his pin of the Jamaican flag from his lapel, and fastened it on the dress of a bedazzled and dewy-eyed Josephine.
Mr. Seaga was a tough leader, but he was also a caring man. He walked with kings and kept a common touch.

(Sir Ronald Sanders is Ambassador of Antigua and Barbuda to the United States and the Organisation of American States. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the University of London and at Massey College in the University of Toronto. The views expressed are entirely his own)