Former Credit Union Manager Facing Criminal Charges

An internal feud between the former manager of the River Sallee Cooperative Credit Union in St. Patrick’s and staff has lead to criminal charges being laid on him.

Osborne Drakes - charged with money laundering and stealing

Osborne Drakes – charged with money laundering and stealing

Osborne Drakes who served as manager of the rural financial institution up until last month was slapped with charges of money laundering, and stealing $48, 000.00 by reason of employment by the Financial Intelligent Unit (FIU).

Officers of the FIU pulled in Drakes over the last weekend over allegations that he was involved in financial irregularities.

The former manager appeared at the St. George’s No.2 Magistrate’s Court on Monday and was granted bail in the sum of $60,000 with two sureties by Magistrate Francine Foster.

Police Prosecutor, Corporal Terrence Andall informed the court that the Prosecution would not object to bail being granted to the suspect but asked for certain conditions to be laid down.

Cpl. Andall asked for the defendant to surrender all travel documents, seek permission from the relevant authority if he has to travel, and to report to Central Police Station on the Carenage, St. George’s every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Defense attorney, Ruggles Ferguson said he was delighted over the no objection for bail but was not happy with Cpl. Andall’s request to have his client report to the police station three times a week.

Ferguson argued that there is no need for his client to report three days a week as he has no prior convictions, and is not a flight risk.

The defense counsel spoke of his client being a “good citizen” of responsibility in the community of St. Patrick’s.

The court was told that Drakes lives with his family including two children.

Magistrate Foster in handing down the bail conditions reduced the reporting time to twice per week – every Monday and Friday between 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.

Drakes was ordered to attend the Sauteurs Magistrate’s Court on January 24th 2017 for the next court hearing in the case.

Government moves closer to commercialising tourism sites

The Keith Mitchell government is hoping to commercialise at least four heritage/tourism sites on the island during the early part of 2017.

Agriculture Minister Yolande Bain-Horsford along with Randall Shears, Chief Extension Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture

Agriculture Minister Yolande Bain-Horsford along with Randall Shears, Chief Extension Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture

This was disclosed by former Tourism Minister Yolande Bain-Horsford who now holds the portfolio of Agriculture.

Speaking at Tuesday’s post-Cabinet press briefing, the female government minister identified the sites for commercialisation as Fort George, Fort Frederick, Annandale Waterfall, and the Grand Etang national park.

Prime Minister Mitchell who is also the Minister of Finance first hinted at the commercialisation of these sites during his presentation of the 2016 Budget in November 2015.

Minister Bain-Horsford told reporters that government is “hoping that it (the commercialisation of the four sites) would happen very early next year so that we can move our tourism development plan forward.”

She said that the current Tourism Minister, Dr. Clarice Modeste-Curwen is working to get the commercialisation process going and “very soon you would hear bids out there.”

Pointing out that Grenada is regarded as “one of the best tourism sites in the Caribbean,” the female government minister stressed the need “to refresh our (tourism) sites, to make sure that we have the right things (in place)”.

“We are very unique, we have a diversity of things that no other island has and we have to ensure that we have our sites well prepared for our visitors when they arrive,” she said.

Prime Minster Mitchell had also announced in the last budget that government had taken a decision to relocate the headquarters of the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) from Fort George in order to facilitate the commercialisation of this historic site.

In making the announcement, Dr. Mitchell had said that an “alternative site has been identified (and that) efforts were on the way to mobilise funds to build an appropriate facility on that particular site”.

Since then, information has not been forthcoming from the cash-strapped New National Party (NNP) government on the new police headquarters.

Suzuki Vitara up for grabs in Sol promotion

One lucky Sol EC Ltd. customer will have the opportunity to win a brand new 2016 fully loaded Suzuki Vitara customized with their name on it.

(Second to the left) Sol Country Manager George Bain Jr., Suzuki Office Manager, Abigail Francis and Sales Representative for the Sol brand, Kesha Charles, surrounded by two models for the Suzuki brand

(Second to the left) Sol Country Manager George Bain Jr., Suzuki Office Manager, Abigail Francis and Sales Representative for the Sol brand, Kesha Charles, surrounded by two models for the Suzuki brand

That’s the grand prize to be won at the end of Sol’s “We have a Vitara with your name on it” promotion, being held in association with Steele’s Auto Supply Co. Ltd.

The promotion, officially launched at Steele’s Commercial Complex in Grand Anse last week Friday morning, would conclude on January 13, 2017.

During the next nine weeks, customers can enter the promotion with every $40 spent in fuel at Sol service stations across the island.

According to Suzuki Office Manager, Abigail Francis, the 2016 Suzuki Vitara when compared to the older model is about 40% more improved in terms of gas consumption.

In addition, she said the spare tyre is now on the inside, there is front and back parking sensors, press to start system, seven airbags, Bluetooth connectivity and it comes in two-tone or a single colour, among many other features .

“As you can see, when we do things at Sol we do them big,” declared Sol’s Country Manager, George Bain Jr., as he invited vehicle operators in the country “to drive in to your nearest Sol service Station, be it at LL Ramdhanny Service Station in Tivoli; L.R. Charles in Grenville, PB Mc Queen in Crochu, Mc Intyre in Grand Anse, Otway David G Ltd. on Kirani James Boulevard (or the) Vena Bullen & Sons (service station) in Carriacou where you will experience our Sol excellent service.”

A view from the driver's seat

A view from the driver’s seat

According to Bain, “this promotion is once again our big thank you for your loyal support for the Sol brand.”

Bain also used the opportunity to announce that “the Grenada market is one of the highest in the group” for the company.

He said it is so high that “Grenada recently won the ‘Service Excellence Award’ for outstanding delivery of service to customers in our entire retail network of 2300.”

Sales Representative for the Sol brand, Kesha Charles said that customers can now move away from the traditional entry form method, and opt to go online and enter the competition using their web entry form cards that will be distributed at the various service stations.

She indicated that each card carries a special code to be used online.

Charles explained that by entering the promotion online, customers will have a chance to win $250 in free fuel in weekly promotions that are only open to customers who choose to enter the competition using their web entry form cards.

She said that “customers can choose to have a combination of the two – the web card and the paper entry by purchasing $80 or more in fuel.”

Additionally, Charles said, Sol customers will have more chances to win prizes at the weekly events and customers who attend will also have a chance to win free fuel prizes.

The promotion highlights Sol ‘Go Further’, an additive present in its gasoline and diesel fuel, which was officially introduced to the market in 2014, with the launch of the Sol brand.

2016 Suzuki Vitara

2016 Suzuki Vitara

‘Sol Go Further’ Gasoline was designed to improve engine performance and fuel economy giving motorists up to 10 kilometres more per tank full, based on average driving conditions in a 1.8 litre car with a full 50 litre gas tank.

The ‘Sol Go Further’ Diesel has been developed to increase power output, enhance engine life and reduce emissions, as well as to provide greater fuel economy.

The Sol Group was formed in 2005 through the acquisition of Shell’s business in the Eastern Caribbean and has since been recognised as the Caribbean’s premier provider of energy solutions with operations spanning 20 countries.

Sol is the supplier of fuel, lubricants, Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) and petroleum based products to customers involved in shipping, luxury boating, aviation, mining, trucking and fleet operation.

Budhlall calls for a party rebrand

A Political Activist with close ties to the ruling New National Party (NNP) government of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell is calling for it to follow the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) and also engage in rebranding to bolster its chances in the upcoming general elections.

“You have to change the face, rebrand,” Kennedy Budhlall (KB) told a radio station in the north of the island last week Sunday.

Budhlall was speaking on reports coming out of the St. David’s NNP Constituency Branch that it is plagued with problems.

He said the big wigs in the party cannot just fold their arms and say let the process continue in that manner.

Almost two months ago, NDC engaged in a rebranding exercise by dropping the colour gold and adopting the three colours of the National Flag – green, red and gold.

In a frank and pointed attack on the Mitchell-led party, Budhlall said that NNP at present has no system in place to oversee the working of the Parliamentarians in the various constituencies to determine whether or not they are performing.

He charged that the MP’s only see the use of the party around the time of elections.

According to Budhlall, a lot of political work has to be done in St. David’s if the incumbent, Economic Development Minister, Oliver Joseph is to retain the constituency in the upcoming general election.

Joseph, a former civil servant and newcomer to frontline politics, won the seat in the 2013 poll, defeating another new entrant, Adrian “Persuader” Thomas who represented Congress.

Budhlall, a former army officer in the disbanded People’s Revolutionary Army (PRA) claimed that Minister Joseph lacks the required support base around him to undertake the political work needed to hold onto the seat.

“The operatives under the Minister could cause the party to lose.

People don’t have to vex with NNP to leave NNP”, he said.

“If the man in charge of housing, every time he goes to visit a house he wants woman – would you think they (the people) staying with the party for that?” he retorted.

According to Budhlall, there are several negative things that the operatives will do and the blame will fall on the Party, Prime Minister and the MP.

The Political Activist believes the time has come for the ruling party to start grooming the younger members of the party to take over leadership duties.

“NNP now should have their own party school to train political activists… You have to invest now in the young people. NNP must invest in young political activists to replace those ageing ones,” he said.

He believes that in order to correct the problem affecting the NNP Branch in St. David’s, that Prime Minister Mitchell who is the Political Leader of the party  should hold a retreat as too much negatives are coming from the St. David’s constituency.

Stating that Joseph is new “to the game” of politics and will take time to “gel”, Budhlall claimed that workers associated with the Minister’s political camp in St. David’s are fighting among themselves, “and we have to be careful.”

He also alluded to the fact that supporters leave a political party for various reasons.

“Call a retreat, we have enough time. Call it while there are good human beings, you have enough time, and to weed out all those who (are) giving trouble, all those who are liability,” he said.

Budhlall also advocated that the time has come for certain changes to be made to the rules of the Public Service Commission (PSC) to allow professionals to participate in the democratic process while still serving in the Service.

However, in recent years a few civil servants have resigned their positions to contest general elections and return in later years to serve the public.

The most notable is policeman, Carl Caton who was appointed as a Senator by Dr. Mitchell just before the 2008 election to contest the St. Patrick East seat but was defeated by former  Congress leader, Tillman Thomas.

After being in the wilderness for years, Caton was allowed to re-enlist as a policeman when the NNP won the 2013 general election.

Minister Modeste: “We have not closed the door on Liat”

Tourism and Civil Aviation Minister, Dr. Clarice Modeste-Curwen remains hopeful that Liat will restore those flights that were recently removed from Grenada.

Liat, which is referred to as the island hopping regional carrier, pulled its late night flight out of Trinidad and Tobago to Grenada on September 19 and one month later, on October 24th, stopped the early morning flight from Grenada to Barbados.

“We have not closed the door on Liat, but some proper arrangements have to be made,” Minister Modeste-Curwen told a local radio station programme last week Wednesday.

The senior Government Minister disclosed that the Grenada Government contributes financially to most of the airlines that service Grenada.

Speculation is rife that the Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) administration in St. George’s provides cash to the international airlines flying into the Maurice Bishop International Airport (MBIA) and not the regional carriers.

“As Prime Minister and as Minister of Finance, has said he does not mind (contributing to the airline), but if we’re going to pay we need to be given the kind of respect and consideration that we deserve”, said the female government minister.

Dr. Modeste-Curwen indicated that Grenada is awaiting a proposal from Liat with regards to having the flights restored.

She said she is aware that the removal of the flights has left the traveling public in a quandary, “but we are working day and night” to resolve the problem.

As the longest serving Parliamentary Representative for St. Mark’s, the minister highlighted some work that has been undertaken in the rural constituency but expressed her displeasure with certain aspects that were handled by “the experts.”

“Sometimes when you get expert advice or expert documentation, it is not expert, and it comes back to us as Parliamentary Representatives to deal with the shortcomings,” she told the host of the programme.

Dr. Modeste-Curwen made specific reference to the Maran Basketball Court, which was constructed in collaboration with the Grenada Electricity Services Limited (Grenlec).

She said a design for the basketball court was furnished by an engineer, which was approved by Grenlec which reportedly has an engineer with infrastructural knowledge.

However, she claimed that upon construction of the basketball court it was discovered that it was too small, and below international standards.

Another project the St. Mark MP is not happy about is the Victoria Fish Market, which has been out of commission for a long time.

She said that based on negotiation on her part, Cabinet approved the money for the insulator of the cold room.

According to Dr. Modeste-Curwen, the space was not adequate to retrofit the cold room, which has now caused a further delay in the operations of the fish market.

“Sometimes it is a little bit frustrating when you don’t get the right technical support,” she said.

The incumbent is expected to seek her fifth consecutive term as MP for St. Mark in general elections widely expected to be held sometime in 2017.

Shawn Braveboy: “I am a different man”

A former inmate at Her majesty’s Prisons at Richmond Hill has paid glowing tribute to the rehabilitation programme that is being undertaken by the State Institution.

Shawn Braveboy of Beaulieu, St. George’s who has had a taste of prison life at the early age of 13 years told reporters that he has been to prison 27 times.

“Today, actually, I could claim that I am a different man. It may not be a hundred percent, but at least I try my best to stay away from the law,” he said.

According to Braveboy, it is now 15 years since he has not been to prison.

He spoke to reporters shortly after informing the court that Belmont, St. George’s resident, Errol Charles who has 27 convictions is not being honest about the rehabilitation programmes offered at the prisons.

He said he could attest to the fact that Officers, both former and present from the Prisons are the ones who have set him on the right path.

“I could recommend and commend the Prison Authority for playing a key role in my life, so prisoners have to stop blaming Richmond Hill Prison Authority for their personal action… and they being repeated offenders,” he added.

Recently, Social Worker at the Prisons, former inmate Christopher Stroude informed the local media that there are inmates who refuse to accept the rehabilitative programmes being offered.

Braveboy who now resides at Birchgrove, St. George’s has been putting his life together and currently works in the Maintenance department at T. A. Marryshow Community College (TAMCC).

He is married with two children.

According to the 37-year old former inmate, the Prison has taught him to overcome temptation.

“I could give the Prisons thumbs up for the good work they have done in my life, for the role they have played in my life,” he said.

Claudette JosephBy Claudette Joseph

In an article published 10th October 2016, I made 2 observations about the Gender Equality Chapter of the Rights & Freedoms Bill. They are:

(1) that the definition of “Gender” as being: “the range of characteristics pertaining to, and differentiating between male and female.” is sufficiently wide to embrace other genders in its interpretation; (2) that this all embracing meaning of “gender” together with the other provisions of the Bill and those of the existing Constitution quite possibly open the door for LGBT persons to assert Constitutional rights based on sexual orientation.

For these observations, I have been heavily criticised. I am not presenting a position on whether or not the LGBT community should enjoy equal Constitutional rights. Indeed, it will be untenable to suggest that all persons should not be protected by the Constitution.

The concern is that the voting public must be given full and frank disclosure of all the possible implications of the Bill so that when they vote, they make an educated, informed decision.

It is a fact that the modern, globally accepted definition of gender is no longer confined to the male/female binary. Yet, the proponents of the Bill insist that the Gender Equality chapter is only concerned with the expansion of women’s rights, and equality between men and women. An honest scrutiny reveals otherwise.

This broad definition of “gender” in the Bill is perhaps not accidental. The question of making special Constitutional provision for members of the LGBT community was considered by CRAC during its deliberations.

On 15th October 2014, CRAC held a consultation at the Trade Centre.

It invited spokespersons from the LGBT community to make a presentation. Mr. Richie Maitland and Ms. Malaika Lowe of Groundation Grenada, a self-described “social action collective” whose mission, among other things, is to “provide active safe spaces to incubate new modes of resistance”, made a passionate plea for the LGBT community to be recognised and provided for in a reformed Constitution.

In its second report to the Cabinet dated 22nd November 2014, at paragraph 17.0, CRAC recommended to Cabinet that Parliament should pass laws to provide for protection against discrimination at workplaces based on sexual orientation.

The Bill at sections 18M and 18Q respectively, proposes to insert provisions in the Constitution that recognise that Grenada has signed on to certain international treaties relating to human rights and gender equality and encourage Parliament to take steps to incorporate these into domestic law. If passed, in interpreting the Constitution, the court will give appropriate consideration to these sections and to the treaties to which Grenada is a party.

Before the provisions on Gender Equality were included in the draft Bill, Mrs. Anande Trotman-Joseph, on a consultancy with the support of UN Women, submitted a report to the Ministry of Legal Affairs. In that report, it was noted at paragraph 5.0, that in the consultations leading to the preparation of the report, “some sensitivity (was) expressed by representatives of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the West Indies (PAWI), about the impacts of the adoption of gender equality, opening the floodgates for advocacy for trans-genders and sexual orientation protection from discrimination to be included in the Constitution”.

In an attempt to allay those fears, “Gender” in that report was expressed to be referring to the binary male/female context and further, not related to transgender or sexual orientation. A specific definition of “gender” that would have adequately reflected the male/female binary intent was recommended.

The suggested definition, borrowed from the Constitution of Guyana, was as follows:
“In this section, gender means male and female, therefore, women and men have equal rights and the same legal status in all spheres of political, economic and social life. All forms of discrimination against women based on their sex are illegal.”

For some unknown reason, that definition was not used in the Bill.

Instead the drafters opted for the expansive, all-embracing definition, apparently ignoring the fears expressed by PAWI.

The word “characteristics” in the definition refers to the features or attributes differentiating between male and female. Implicit in that meaning is the fact that a natural born male can have female characteristics and vice-versa. These characteristics can be expressed in behaviour such as dress, or acquired by medical intervention such as sex reassignment surgery, injecting hormones or some other form.

Any person who by these means, identifies as a gender different from their sex, will be entitled, to equal protection of the law (i.e., to decide their gender) as provided for by the proposed amendment in section 10 of the Bill; and quite properly so.

While sex is biological, gender is a social and cultural construct.

Sex refers to one’s biological category at birth. In its traditional meaning, gender refers to the social and cultural experience of being a woman or a man and the socially assigned roles and values associated with being man or woman. In this traditional, feminist meaning, gender is directly linked to biological sex. This is the binary definition of gender that the promoters of the Rights & Freedoms Bill insist, that the definition of “gender” in the Bill is limited to.

The difficulty that the promoters of the Bill face is the fact that this traditional, feminist, binary meaning of gender is out dated. The modern meaning is well accepted by sociologists, anthropologists, psychologists and legal scholars. It lends to the notion that gender has more to do with one’s self-identity than with socially assigned roles.

Put another way, a person’s gender is how he/she identifies (male, female or neither). The binary notion is more and more being viewed as coercive. There is a saying among social scientists that: “Gender is not a binary, it is a spectrum.”

In an article titled: Gender-Related Refugee Claims: Expanding the Scope of the Canadian Guidelines, Nicole Laviolette, Assistant Prof. of the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa, addressed this issue of the shift in the meaning of gender, away from the traditional male/female binary. She made the argument that gender is linked to the hierarchical relationship between men and women and encompasses the identities, social status and roles of men and women.

Further, since feminism attempts, in part, to change women’s social roles, the broader notion of gender which includes social, political, and psychological elements, ‘provides a means to argue that the relative positions of men and women can be challenged and changed’.

Non-conformance with gender norms by the LGBT community implies a refusal to behave in ways dictated by their biological sex and social classification.

Part of the rationale behind this new meaning of gender, is that persons are not doomed to be hostage to their biological characteristics, but have a right to their self-expression and self-identity. That is why the Indian Supreme Court ruled that every person has a right to the gender of their own choosing and to have that right recognised by others.

In the case of gender discrimination, the discrimination is not as a result of the victim’s biological sex, but rather, as a result of the person’s gender identity. Thus a binary interpretation of gender as defined in the Bill cannot hold. If the definition is to be confined to the binary form, how are these people to be given equal protection before the law as is proposed by the amendment to section 13?

This modern definition of gender is what the Indian Supreme Court embraced and applied in National Legal Services Authority v the Union of India when it held that the rights of freedom of speech and expression gave trans-genders the right to expression of their self-identified gender; everyone has a right to choose their gender and to have that right recognised by others and; a person’s chosen gender is an integral part of their autonomy and self-expression.

Pope Francis, as recently as August 2016, expressed the view that this modern, individualistic meaning of gender is a threat to the family as we know it. Fr. Sean Doggett evidently forgot to mention this in his recent article published in the Catholic Focus.

Section 10 of the Bill proposes to amend section 13 of the Constitution to make provisions that: no law shall be discriminatory either in itself or in its effect, all persons shall be equal before the law and shall be entitled to equal protection of the law; and that all persons shall be treated equally and humanely by every public authority.

These proposed inclusions in the Grenada Constitution are all welcome, as they will bring our Constitution more in line with other modern constitutions. They are also already part of the Belizean, Gibraltarian, and Trinidadian Constitutions and were applied by the Courts in those countries in Orozco v the AG, Rodriguez v Minister of Housing and Suratt v the AG of T &T. Therefore it is not quite correct to suggest, as Dr. Alexis, Richie Maitland and others have, that because the courts ruled a particular way in those cases, it will rule the same way on these issues if they arise in Grenada under the CURRENT Constitution.

The fact is, our Constitution does not have those provisions. That is why it is not just the broad definition of gender in the Bill that opens the door. It is the definition, together with the other provisions of the Bill.

All genders will be protected by the Gender Equality Chapter because Constitutions are regarding as living, breathing documents that are given broad, generous and purposive interpretations, with due regard to international conventions that the State is party to. This is especially true when interpreting human rights.

The Privy Council in Reyes v The Queen [2002] expressed the view that: “the Court has no licence to read its own predilections and moral values into the Constitution, but it is required to consider the substance of the fundamental right at issue and to ensure contemporary protection of that right in light of evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society.”

Mr. Richie Maitland agrees that indeed a broad, “expansive”, purposive interpretation is what will apply to Constitutional provisions as contained in this Bill. Yet, he insists that a limited male/female binary interpretation of gender is what will apply. These two propositions clearly are conflicting.

To insist on the binary interpretation, is incorrect and misleading.

To say that the provisions of this Bill together with what exists will not open the door to the LGBT community is equally incorrect and misleading.

(Claudette Joseph is a local attorney-at-law who is associated with Amicus Attorneys)

Internet Gaming: The US-Antigua and Barbuda contention

Saunders (New)For over 12 years, the governments of Antigua and Barbuda and the United States have been involved in a contention over an award by the World Trade Organisation in favour of Antigua and Barbuda over internet gaming.

In March 2004, an Arbitration Panel set up by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) found that the US had violated its commitments under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) to allow cross-border access to its market for internet gaming.  The adjudication by a WTO panel that Antigua and Barbuda has been deprived of trade revenues, was upheld three times by Appeal Tribunals.

What now exists is a contention over a satisfactory compensatory proposal from the US that would cause Antigua and Barbuda not to implement the WTO award it has been granted.  The award authorises Antigua and Barbuda to sell US copyrighted material without having to pay royalties/fees, up to a value of US$21 million a year until the US offers a proposal, acceptable to Antigua and Barbuda, either to settle the matter or to allow access to its market for internet gaming.

At any time that the Government of Antigua and Barbuda determines that the discussions it has been holding with the US Trade Representative’s Office (USTR) are fruitless, it can notify the WTO of its intention to implement the judgement and to market US intellectual property without copyright up to US$21 million a year.

Antigua and Barbuda has both a moral and a legal right to compensation from the US.  It is the US that has violated its international treaty obligations; not Antigua and Barbuda.  Indeed, in 2003, the Antigua and Barbuda government, under then Prime Minister Lester Bird, entered good faith consultations with the US to rectify the loss of trade revenues and the damage to the economy.  Only after the US declined to provide compensation did Antigua and Barbuda reluctantly ask the WTO to arbitrate the matter.  Successor governments, led by former Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer and present Prime Minister Gaston Browne, have demonstrated great forbearance over the years since 2004.

The Moral Right

With respect to the moral right, a tiny country with a population of less than 100,000 people and a GDP of US$1 billion has found itself at a trade disadvantage, damaging to its economy, because, for over 12 years, the US with a population of 350 million people and a GDP of US$17,947 billion has not found it possible either to reach an acceptable settlement or to allow market access.

In addition to not compensating Antigua and Barbuda for its significant loss of revenues, jobs and economic growth, the US has collected the sum of US$1,209,312,776.91 (US$1.2billion) in fines, forfeitures and seizures from persons and operators in Antigua and Barbuda up to 2015.

The US has also benefitted from a surplus of trade in goods from Antigua and Barbuda over the period 2004 to 2014 in the sum of US1,892,400,000.00 (US$1.89 billion).

Adding the trade surplus in goods to the sum the US gained from penalties, seizures and fines imposed on internet gaming persons and businesses that operated in Antigua, the US gain over the period of this controversy is US$3 billion.

Over eleven years (2003-2014) of the internet gaming impasse, US aid to Antigua and Barbuda amounted to US$8.5 million or an annual average of seven hundred and seventy-six thousand dollars (US$776,669.00).
More than 90% of this money went to military training from the US Department of Defence, primarily for counter drug trafficking.  When this sum is deducted from the US trade surplus with Antigua and Barbuda, the US still benefits by US$1.88 billion.

The Legal Right

Antigua and Barbuda is asserting a legal right awarded to it by the WTO, the competent legal authority, empowered by 164 nations of the world and recognised by treaty, to provide a legal and institutional framework for the implementation and monitoring of trade agreements (such as the GATS), as well as for settling disputes arising from their interpretation and application.

In pursuing its right, Antigua and Barbuda, as the injured party, is doing nothing more than following the law and respecting the authority of the WTO.  If Antigua and Barbuda is forced to implement the award of the WTO, it would be exercising a legal right just as the US has done in relation to many other countries when arbitration decisions have been made in its favour.

What prospects for a settlement?

Antigua and Barbuda remains determined to reach a settlement that rectifies its loss of trade revenues.  Every diplomatic effort is being made to show the US that US$21 million a year is the paltry sum of .000001% of its GDP; indeed, the loss to the Antigua and Barbuda economy of U$$217 million from 2007 to now is a mere .0012% of one year of the US GDP – in other words, it is nothing to the US; but it is significant to Antigua and Barbuda.

Discussions with the US government are ongoing.  The US wants to withdraw its international commitments under the GATS and to restrict its market for internet gaming to its domestic operators only.  But it cannot do so until Antigua and Barbuda agrees; there is no likelihood of such an agreement until a settlement is reached.

The US has been trying to guard its intellectual property from predators, and it would be troubled by Antigua and Barbuda exercising its legal right to sell US copyrighted material without paying fees.
Antigua and Barbuda understands and sympathises with the US position.

Therefore, if the government decides to implement the WTO award and to market US intellectual property without the payment of copyright fees, it would only be because it is forced to do so by the absence of an acceptable settlement.  There is a growing possibility of this happening as the level of frustration rises.

The US utilises the WTO dispute settlement machinery more than any other country; it values the Organisation and expects its decisions to be upheld.  Therefore, given that the grave and serious loss to the Antigua and Barbuda economy since 2007 is .0012% of one year of the GDP of the US, it is entirely within the capacity and interest of the US to settle the issue in a mutually satisfactory way.

Equity, fairness and the law would suggest that the US should bring this protracted matter to an end, particularly as it has a vested interest in preserving the standing of WTO decisions.   And, as President Barack Obama has pointed out at the United Nations on several occasions right should not be ignored by might.

(Sir Ronald Sanders was Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the WTO when the case against the US was first won in 2004.  He has been appointed by Prime Minister Gaston Browne and the Cabinet, since August 2016, to lead negotiations with the US on the matter)

Bail granted to drug-accused

EC$100, 000.00 with two sureties.

That’s the amount in bail set for two men from St. Andrew’s who are facing drug-related charges.

Damian St. Paul, a technician working with telecommunications company, FLOW, along with Vincentian Edmund Guy are jointly charged with three counts of possession and trafficking of a controlled drug.

In addition a charge of conspiracy to import a controlled drug was laid on Guy.
Fingers are being pointed at Guy as having captained a boat that brought the illegal substance to Grenada.

Members of the Drug Squad of the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) on October 16th intercepted a FLOW vehicle at Mt. Gay, St. George’s, driven by St. Paul, carrying one hundred and thirty pounds of compressed marijuana which has an estimated street value of $294,000.

The suspects appeared before Magistrate Francine Foster at the St. George’s No.2 Magistrate’s Court with the Police Prosecution team not objecting to bail.

St. Paul, 42, who resides at Harford Village, St. Andrew’s used a white face towel to conceal his identity as he came out of a police vehicle that brought him to court.

Attorney-at-law, Peter David has been retained to represent the local telecommunication worker.

His co-accused, Guy who is a Vincentian National living in Grenada undocumented for the past 36 years is being represented by Attorney Francis Paul.

The court learnt that although Guy is married with seven children and has taken up residence at Telescope, St. Andrew’s he has no passport but carries with him an Identification Card.

Magistrate Foster granted bail to the two drug-accused with strict conditions.

She ordered St. Paul to surrender all travel documents, report to the Grenville Police Station every Monday and Friday between 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m and should not leave the State without the permission of the court.

In the case of the Vincentian national, Guy has to report to the Grenville Police Station every Monday to Friday between 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m and was restricted from leaving the State without the permission of the court.

Cabinet approves MOU towards improvements at TAMCC

The Keith Mitchell Government has approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to allow for the reassessment of the curriculum offered at the T. A. Marryshow Community College (TAMCC), its relevance and the manner in which it functions.

Minister of State in the Ministry of Education Sen. Simon Stiell

Minister of State in the Ministry of Education Sen. Simon Stiell

According to Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Senator Simon Stiell, the administration is preparing to sign a five-year agreement with the United States-based PETNA Foundation, and the Canadian-based Mc Master University, with the hope of making TAMCC “the premier tertiary institution in the (Caribbean) region.”

Sen. Stielle told reporters at last week ‘s post-Cabinet press briefing that government approved this decision following discussions previously held with various stakeholders “surrounding the future of TAMCC.”

According to Sen. Stiell, the five-year arrangement is expected to determine “the correct balance between academic attainment (involving) technological and vocational training.”

He said while “we need both (the question is) where the emphasis should be placed…based on what our national needs are today, also looking into the future.”

Sen. Stiell stated that Cabinet has already “received confirmation (from its) partners of their willingness to sign this agreement.”

A section of TAMCC at Tanteen, St. George

A section of TAMCC at Tanteen, St. George

In addition to the MOU, he said, the Ministry of Education has undertaken another initiative geared at restructuring the college, which was enacted in 1988.

He pointed out that “a lot has changed both in Grenada and in the education sphere,” expressing the view that now “is a timely opportunity to relook the organisation and how we can bring greater efficiency to how education services are provided.”

According to Sen. Stiell, an infrastructure upgrade for the college is also on the agenda.

“Cabinet also approved the Ministry of Education’s direct engagement with the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), to seek funding for the new development and upliftment of the physical site, whether it’s at the existing site or whether we look at other campus areas for the college,” he said.

He added that “the engagement with the CDB is going to be in two phases, the first is to do a proper capacity audit looking at TAMCC’s current function, the number of students and use of space and looking at what we (government) know is (a situation) of over crowdedness.

“I don’t know the precise number of desk positions but we know it is overcrowded (and) requires a facility upgrade,” Sen. Stiell said.