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News Round UP: Week Ending 7/9/16

Jamaica

State Minister for Education, Youth and Information, Floyd Green, has underscored the importance of adult education and lifelong learning to the growth and development of the Caribbean’s economies and people.

Green noted that while the region boasts documented supporting research, countries must act to ensure this conclusion materialises.

In this regard, the State Minister has endorsed a proposal for speedy implementation of revised United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recommendations for the advancement of adult learning and education.

The recommendations address prevailing educational, cultural, economic, political, and social challenges.
The proposed action plan was mooted during UNESCO’s just concluded International Conference on Adult Education (CONFINTEA VI) Sub-Regional Follow-up Caribbean Meeting, in Montego Bay.

Green, who addressed the closing ceremony at the Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall Hotel last Friday, also cited the need for ongoing collaboration involving stakeholders in the Caribbean Community (Caricom) and wider Diasporas to support the advancement of adult education.

“As a region, we must ensure that the benchmarks and best practices emerging are validated (and) that adult and lifelong learning is viewed within the context of general education, technical vocational education and training (TVET), special education and literacy, as we continue to train our people for the future,” he said.

Additionally, Green said regional states must continue to conduct research which identifies new trends and subjects that will become relevant in schools, and tailor institutions’ curricula to meet the needs of constantly changing workforces.

The two-day conference, which was attended by Education Ministers, Permanent Secretaries and senior education professionals from 14 Caribbean countries, was held under the theme: ‘Enhancing Lifelong Learning Opportunities for Youth and Adults’.

Green commended UNESCO for providing the forum that facilitated the participants’ deliberations, thereby enabling them to make decisions which were expected to benefit the region over the medium to long-term.

Notable among these, he said, was a proposal for the appointment of a regional ‘Champion Education Minister’ to lobby support for and oversee implementation of the UNESCO recommendations.

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Dominican Republic

Hundreds of Haitians clashed with Immigration officials early Wednesday as inspectors patrolled an area to the east of here.

According to local media reports, the Haitian construction workers were on a truck when they allegedly hurled stones at the immigration inspectors.

A melee ensued and a group of undocumented Haitians who were detained in a bus occupied by the immigration personnel, broke the windows of the vehicle and made their escape.
The police say a team of officers went to the location where they arrested a dozen Haitians, however the group reportedly escaped into nearby bushes.

The incident follows a demonstration by another group of Haitians on Tuesday, in which they protested in front of the Haitian embassy, stating that they were unable to complete papers needed for provisional permits due to the lack of passports from the Haitian government.

The protestors said that despite paying in advance for the passports, they have not yet received the documents.

“This is an abuse of the Haitian government against us,” said Linda Metelié, a Haitian living here who said apart from the money spent for the passport, she has already spent twice that in fares to the embassy to retrieve her document.

The permits issued to the 143,000 Haitians living here will start expiring from July 17, to December this year, when they risk repatriation to the neighbouring French speaking Caribbean county if they fail to complete the renewal documents.

 

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Guyana

Caribbean Community (Caricom) leaders met on Monday for the 37 summit, in the shadows of the vote taken by Britons to exit the 43-year-old European Union late last month.

All seven speakers, including incoming Caricom chairman and Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, made reference to the vote and urged Caribbean people not to harbour any such thought as it relates to the regional integration movement.

But the newly elected St Lucia Prime Minister Allen Chastanet, while he welcomed the opportunities that Brexit — as it is popularly known — may have for the region, also noted that it has “put the survival of our integration into focus”.

“People are once again asking, what is in it for me and my country? What if our people ask for such a referendum? Are we certain of their response? Have we done enough to create that connection between our people and the community.
“Why are we so afraid to do more with an organization that has demonstrated that we can punch above our weight in the international arena? If we are an organization whose essence is a better life for the whole, then let our decisions legitimately reflect that principle. Let us trust our councils and our work teams,” Chastanet said, urging that these institutions become “more engaged to implementation when they have the opportunity”.

But Prime Minister Skerrit told the ceremony that, at a time when the rest of the world is moving towards regional integration in order to carve out an economic space in the global marketplace and to balance the might of the emerging superpowers, Britain has chosen to “retreat to insular nationalism”.

He said that the summit provides the leaders with “a wonderful opportunity to seriously consider the effect that Britain’s exit from the European Union will have on Caricom, and to demonstrate real leadership by showing the way forward.

“After all, we have had a long and deep relationship with the United Kingdom, and Britain remains one of our most important trading partners — the largest source market for our primary industry, and a vital source of assistance on legal and financial matters.”

He said as the new chairman of the 15-member regional integration movement, he must make clear “my position on the exit of the UK from the EU; and to suggest what Caricom needs to do urgently in response to this seismic eruption in the European Union, and the consequent inevitable shift in international relationships”.

Skerrit said that he wanted to remind the “Caricom skeptics” that the circumstances in the EU are completely different from those in Caricom, noting that Britain had historical fear of losing their sovereignty and that EU citizenship brings with it not only free movement, but also automatic access to welfare and other benefits.

“This created anxieties in Britain where the average English voter saw membership of the EU as opening the floodgates for countless Europeans and refugees from Syria, Iraq and wherever there is conflict, to pour into their country through any of the EU ports of entry. This is something which Britain, still hamstrung by austerity measures, could not afford indefinitely.”

On the other hand, he said, Caricom is the fulfillment of a long-standing aspiration of its peoples. “It is an important staging post on the way to creating what scholars like Dr Ralph Gonzalves call a unique ‘Caribbean civilisation’.”

Skerrit said that the people of the Caribbean have demonstrated, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that the human spirit is invincible and that during the worst forms of deprivation, they have continued to dream.

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SPORTS

A Barcelona court last Friday gave Lionel Messi and his father suspended sentences of 21 months in prison for tax fraud.

The court found both the Barcelona star and his father, Jorge Horacio Messi, guilty of three counts of defrauding the tax department to the tune of 4.1 million euros (US$4.6 million).

In Spain, sentences of less than two years for first offences are suspended, meaning neither man will go to jail.

The court also fined Messi 2 million euros and his father, 1.5 million euros.
During the four-day trial last month, Messi and his father denied any wrongdoing. Both said the player was unaware of the tax issues that led to the fraud charges.

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Guyana

Caribbean island nations this week discussed boosting security to ensure terrorists and other criminals do not gain citizenship by posing as investors.

Grenada’s Prime Minister Keith Mitchell said that although the island’s citizenship-by-investment program (CIP), has provided a major source of revenue, the government is not prepared to sacrifice its national security.

“We have to come to terms with that, that in this global terrorism atmosphere that we are now dealing with, we have to be extremely careful that one incident, one person being allowed in our region can in fact create havoc,” he told reporters at the Caribbean leaders’ annual summit held in Guyana, where the topic has been under discussion.

Having tightened its screening process, Grenada has rejected even some applicants approved by international partners based on anecdotal information, he added.

One country’s policies affect the others because the European Union-style free-movement regime of the 15-member Caribbean Community (Caricom) allows Caribbean nationals to travel freely throughout the region without visas.

St Kitts and Nevis — which pioneered selling citizenship to investors for as much as $500,000 per applicant, but whose economy depends chiefly on tourism — credited the revenue source with funding the construction of internationally recognized hotels.

“It has been a positive development,” the twin-island federation’s prime minister, Timothy Harris, told reporters. “What is equally true is that it has to be managed well, and we are committed as a government to ensure that we have the most robust due-diligence program because of the reputational downside damage that could occur and because of the evolving security arrangement in which we live.”

Canada enacted a visa regime for St Kitts and Nevis residents almost two years ago because of concerns about its citizenship-by-investment program.

Dominica, St Lucia, and Antigua and Barbuda have also cashed in on citizenship-by-investment programs that have helped them weather declining tourist numbers during economic downturns in Europe and the United States.

Elsewhere, Malta, Cyprus, Portugal, Spain, the United States and Canada offer similar citizenship programs.

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Guyana

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet on Tuesday called for greater cooperation between Latin America and the Caribbean saying it could only “bring us regional benefits”.

Bachelet, who met with Caribbean Community (Caricom) leaders said Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), are a core priority of her country’s foreign policy.

“In this regard, our relations with Caricom play an important role. We ensure that progressive integration and cooperation projects with countries and regional bodies in our region can make a difference when we seek to achieve a prosperous and inclusive future for our people…”.

She said that a stronger and deeper relationship between Caricom and Chile can only bring benefits to the two regions. “The increase of regional trade is an imperative of our times and the most appropriate and feasible answer to the declining commodity prices, sectors such as tourism, education, energy, agriculture and fisheries, to mention just a few, provide multiple opportunities for increasing our trade and investment flows,” she added.
President Bachelet said that Chile has, for many years, been a recipient of international cooperation and it was an irreplaceable contribution to its development.

“Today, we see ourselves as having a dual role. We still have development gaps which require a little handout of the international community.

“Here, we are also committed to share our best practices with public policies that have helped us to grow, to deepen our democracy, to improve the quality of our public administration and to defeat poverty,” she said.

Caricom Chairman Roosevelt Skerrit spoke of the strong relationship with Chile, informing her that the small island developing states, including those in the Caribbean, were lobbying the international community to address the impacts of climate change.

Skerrit, the prime Minister of Dominica, noted that while the Caribbean bears the brunt of the impact of climate change, its contribution to the phenomenon was minimal.

“The community over the past years has made a conscious effort to build relations with our partners in our hemisphere. It is not at the expense of our traditional partners by any stretch of the imagination, but Chile has been a partner to all of our countries bilaterally,” Caricom Secretary General Irwin La Rocque said at the opening of the summit on Monday night.

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Jamaica

The US dollar on Thursday, July 7, ended trading at J$126.38, down by nine cents, according to the Bank of Jamaica’s daily foreign exchange trading summary.

Meanwhile, the Canadian dollar ended trading at J$96.42, down from J$96.89, while the British pound sterling ended trading at J$162.33 down from J$162.87.

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Jamaica

Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service Fayval Williams says the time has come for Jamaica to fast-track efforts to establish a national identification system for its citizens.

She said that implementation of this system will assist persons in obtaining personal and other social benefits for themselves and for their children.

Williams was taking part in a panel discussion on ‘Civil Registration and good governance: An approach to the 2030 agenda for sustainable development’, at the inaugural two-day Caribbean Civil Registration and Identity Management conference, at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, in St. James, on July 7.

The state minister said the process towards the establishment of a national identification system for Jamaica started over three decades ago, and while there have been 17 years of bipartisan parliamentary efforts, the matter remains a work in progress.

“The goal has been to afford a convenient and reliable means to verify identifications to assist with governance and distribution of socio-economic benefits, assist in citizens’ security, prevent identity fraud and assist in law enforcement,” she explained.

Williams said the integration of identification information across all government ministries and agencies will result in major cost reductions to both the State and individuals.

“The long-term impact of the system is expected to be cost savings for the Government, efficiency gains for the citizens, more equitable tax collections, increased tax compliance, reduction in poverty and crime, strengthening in immigration and border control, improved safety and national security. In addition to the social returns, the cost benefit model for Jamaica suggests an economic rate of return of 212 per cent over seven years,” she said.

Williams noted that the Inter-American Bank (IDB) estimates that the National Identification System will cost Jamaica US$50 million and she has invited the bank to come on board as a partner.

Source: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/State-minister-says-country-must-fast-track-national-ID-system

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