A world less safe: Caribbean not immune

Events affecting Iran, prompted by the May 8 decision of U.S. President Donald Trump to withdraw America from a 2015 nuclear deal, may appear irrelevant to Caribbean countries. They are not. One of the first effects will be a rise in oil prices which has already reached US$77 a barrel and is forecast to rise higher. The cost of oil is one of the highest factor costs for production in every Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country, except Trinidad and Tobago which is an oil and gas producer. Since 2014, Caribbean economies enjoyed a respite from high oil prices that averaged US$100 … Continue reading

Electoral reform before another Referendum

On 30th September 2013, the Governor General unceremoniously fired Judy Benoit, Supervisor of Elections after she refused to tow the political line. From then, the electoral process and system in Grenada, have been under sustained attack. Unfortunately, the National Democratic Congress has been, for the most part, the lone voice speaking out against this attack. We called for much needed reform to the election law, the Representation of the People Act (“the RPA”), but no change was made even though Government expressed its commitment to electoral reform. The NDC had several meetings with the Supervisor of Elections between 2016 and … Continue reading

The constitutional breach in the Senate

Just before the Ceremonial Opening of the 10th Parliament, it was announced that Glynis Roberts will be made a Senator. This announcement was a matter of interest to us in the NDC because the three interest groups: the farmers, the business community and labour had already announced their Senators; and on March 21st 2018, Her Excellency invited us to submit 2 or 3 names for consideration to be appointed Opposition Senators. We submitted: Glen Noel, Ron Redhead and Kerryne James. Section 24 (2) of the Constitution of Grenada is very clear. It provides that the Governor General shall appoint 7 … Continue reading

Good Journalism is like a toothache: it hurts but it warns

Reporters Without Borders (RWB) just released its 2018 press freedom report, and, apart from two of them, the lowest mark for rated Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries is “fairly good”. The worst rated, as “problematic”, are Haiti and Guyana. Jamaica is the only CARICOM country rated “good”. For unknown reasons, the Bahamas and Barbados are not included in the 180 countries that were assessed. In between the extremes of Jamaica on the top end, and Haiti and Guyana on the other end, Suriname, Belize, Trinidad and Tobago and, collectively, the six countries of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) are … Continue reading

Welcome Prince Charles by Royal wish and better sense

For two and half years since Commonwealth Heads of Government met in Malta in 2015, the British Government had been anxious to ensure that Prince Charles should succeed his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, as Head of the Commonwealth of Nations. Indeed, lobbying for agreement on such a succession was already in play before and during the Malta meeting, particularly as there had been rumblings in some Commonwealth countries that the headship should be rotated, and not remain a relic of the colonial past. The succession is important to the British government for many reasons, not least that should Britain lose … Continue reading

For a change: Welcome World Bank advice

Attending a World Bank meeting on April 16, I was shocked to hear a senior official of the organisation say that, in addressing fiscal deficits, Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) countries should not make “shock adjustments”. This advice is contrary to the traditional prescriptions handed out by the twin international Financial Institutions, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), to developing countries that run-up fiscal deficits, namely the difference between total revenue and total expenditure. The traditional guidance is to cut government spending and increase taxes rapidly – in other words, “shock adjustments”. Wherever that prescription has been … Continue reading

The Commonwealth: What’s in it for small states?

Writing in the British Guardian Newspaper on April 10, my colleague, Professor Phillip Murphy, the Director of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the University of London, recalled that for those who campaigned for Britain to leave the European Union, “depicting the Commonwealth as a huge potential trading opportunity for the UK was a useful fiction”. It was a fiction during the campaign and remains a fiction now. The reality is that the Commonwealth cannot replace the EU for Britain which sells far more goods and services to the 27 members of the EU than it does to the 52 … Continue reading

Day of Reckoning a coming!

Within the space of an hour of listening to the BBC World News of Friday, April 06, 2018, was heard the indictment of two powerful world leaders – Jacob Zuma of South Africa and Luis Inacio Lulu da Silva of Brazil – the former charged with corruption, racketeering, fraud and money laundering, the latter convicted of taking bribes. Two days ago, former South Korean President, Park Geun –hye, (first female leader of her country) was convicted on corruption charges. The year 2017 closed with one of the longest serving, most powerful, most wealthy leaders being run out of office, President … Continue reading

Trade wars in no one’s interest

The Government of the People’s Republic of China wrote to the Chairperson of the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on April 4, registering a dispute with the Government of United States of America over duties that would be applied by the U.S. only to China’s products. The Chinese action was a response to the publication on April 3 of a list of products by the U.S. that would attract an additional ad valorem duty of 25 percent on entry into the U.S. market. According to China’s submission, the U.S. measures “appear to be inconsistent with … Continue reading

The Caribbean: Facing a Fatal Fate

High-tide flooding is set to become an every-other-day affair in coastal areas along the Gulf of Mexico and the East Coast of the United States of America by the year 2100. It will also fatally harm the countries of the Caribbean. As the level of the sea continues to rise, conditions will be calamitous long before that 82-year period is reached. The resulting flooding will not be storm related; it will occur simply because the level of the sea has risen above the level of land. When storms also strike, conditions will be even worse. This 82-year projection is based … Continue reading