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Minister Calls On Students to Hold Government Accountable for the Environment

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Bahamas, 27 April 2015 – In the midst of public uproar surrounding the government’s negligence to inform the public of the results of a 2012 underground leak at a local gas station, the Minister of Environment and Housing urged high school students to help the Government to correct its flaws.

Minister Kenred Dorsett made the call at the opening ceremonies for the third Earth Day Challenge sponsored by Ferreira & Company held earlier this week, which attracted more than 50 students from around the country. The event encouraged students to display environmental issues and provide solutions for them, something Dorsett said was quite a heartening experience for him.

“I was encouraged about the future of earth sciences in our country when I learnt that not only were you required to complete science projects, but you have to defend them and also find out if there were any laws that encouraged the activities of your project,” said Dorsett. “So now you can point out weaknesses to the Government and help us to make laws to support the environmental projects you studied.

Just last week, Dorsett and his government agency came under fire after it was revealed that an independent study completed by Black and Veach International (BVI) in 2014 indicated that an oil leak at the Rubis Service Station on Robinson Road exposed residents of the area and employees of surrounding businesses to harmful chemicals.
The report went on to say that while remediation efforts were appropriate for groundwater contamination, Rubis could have also acted on its off-site impacts. One of those harmful chemicals included Benzene, known to be a cancer-causing component. The initial complaint was made in 2012 and the results of the year-old report, were not released until last week after residents demanded answers.

Since last week’s revelation, Bahamians have strengthened their cry for a Freedom of Information Act to be passed, something environmental consultant and attorney Romauld Ferreira says he has been pushing for more than two years.
“The time to act is now,” said Ferreira, who is also a director of the environmental group Save The Bays. “Had there been a Freedom of Information Act in place, the people would not have been left in the dark for nearly two years. Now we have persons who have been exposed to deadly toxins, something that could have been avoided had there been a law for accountability and transparency in the first place.”
Shortly after making the call to the students, Dorsett admitted that the process of the release of the report should have been more transparent, but maintained that there was no conspiracy to conceal information from the Bahamian people. Dorsett has called the government’s handling of the Rubis matter “a teachable moment.”

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Brave presentation in defence of Bahamas’ financial services reputation by PM Davis

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By Sherrica Thompson

Staff Writer

 

#TheBahamas, October 1, 2022 – Prime Minister of the Bahamas Phillip ‘Brave’ Davis is again calling for equality in the financial services sector and for the United Nations to leverage its universal jurisdiction for greater oversight of global anti-money laundering de-risking and tax cooperation matters.

In addressing the United Nations General Assembly on Saturday, September 24, Prime Minister Davis said the Bahamas is one of the best-regulated countries in the world, yet it has been under attack by international bodies and placed on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) blacklist while transgressions in the developed world are ignored.

He questioned why this was the case and highlighted some disparities in the financial sector.

“Why is it that European states that operate frameworks akin to that of high-risk or blacklisted countries, are not even eligible for inclusion on these lists? Why are all the countries targeted – all of them – small and vulnerable, and former colonies of European states? We find it astounding that the $2-$3 trillion dollars which is estimated to be laundered each year through the developed countries, are never flagged as causes for concern,” articulated Phillip Davis, addressing the 77th session in New York.

Prime Minister Davis further noted that there are elements of racism in the decision-making when it comes to regulating black-governed countries in the financial services sector. He also declared that black-governed countries matter as well.

And yet my country, which is widely recognized as one of the best-regulated countries in the world, and other countries like The Bahamas, are singled-out for such reputational attacks? The robust regulatory regimes of our Central Bank, Securities Commission, and Insurance Commission, are chastised on minor details of technical process, while much bigger transgressions in the developed world are ignored.

The evidence is mounting, that the considerations behind these decisions have less to do with compliance, and more to do with darker issues of pre-judged, discriminatory perceptions. Black-governed countries also matter.”

 Davis also highlighted the need for reforms that apply to all in the global financial system.

“Mr. President: We support the call for reforms in the global financial system to make it more relevant to the needs of today. But those reforms need ambition. They need to go beyond the incremental. And they need to apply to all. For example, the community of international financial institutions are in a position to forgive the debt incurred by the economic shutdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic. They should do so.”

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Will US President Biden deliver on Climate Change funding?

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#USA, October 1, 2022 – US President Joe Biden has reiterated his promise that low income countries, which are also low carbon emitters will receive increased climate aid from the US to the tune of $11 billion per year.

The President was speaking at the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly recently where he maintained his administration was working with Congress to get the funds which would ‘help lower-income countries implement their climate goals and ensure a just energy transition.’

The plan was announced in September 2021 and is a reflection of the USA’s part in the 2010 global pledge made by developed countries to give $100 billion annually in climate financing to developing nations each year.  Biden has indicated that the plan will be in effect by 2024.

While he stressed at the UN that the need is ‘enormous’ the President is having trouble convincing lawmakers at home.  So far the funding which must be approved by Congress has not materialized. The United States Congress is known for having a particularly tight hold on the national purse in regards to climate change funding.

In fact congress dedicated only a little over $1 billion to climate change this year according to Bloomberg.  The US also has a history of promising funding for climate change but not delivering on those high priced promises.

Whether this $11 billion will actually get to nations like those in the Caribbean region is yet to be seen.

This year, the General Assembly heard from 190 speakers, including 76 Heads of State, 50 Heads of Government, four Vice-Presidents, five Deputy Prime Ministers, 48 Ministers and seven Heads of Delegations according to General Assembly President Csaba Kőrösi as he summed up the first in-person General Debate since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

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Caribbean News

Hurricane Ian impact on Cayman Islands

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By Sherrica Thompson

Staff Writer

 

#Cayman, October 1, 2022 – The Cayman Islands experienced fierce winds and high seas from Hurricane Ian on Monday, as the storm passed offshore, causing little lasting damage.

Some areas on the island experienced flooding as low-lying condo complexes and some residential back roads were inundated with water. Almost 4,000 homes were without power on Monday; however, most had electricity restored by the evening.

There were also no reports of any injuries, deaths, or serious structural damage.  The country started its restoration process on Monday afternoon, clearing debris from the roads, surveying the damage and providing support to residents where needed.

In a statement on Monday afternoon, Premier of the Cayman Islands Wayne Panton said he was pleased with how residents handled the situation.

“While we have been very fortunate to have been spared the worst of a potentially very serious storm, I’m extremely pleased to have seen the efforts made by the Caymanian public to prepare for ‘the worst, while praying for the best. In this situation, this is simply the safest, most strategic thing to do,” the Premier said

Despite the all-clear being issued on Monday evening, the Ministry of Education announced that government schools will remain closed to students until Wednesday, 28 September.

Meanwhile, in Cuba, authorities have declared emergencies in six areas, with forecasters warning of storm surges on the coast along with flash floods and mudslides.

Tens of thousands of people were told to leave their homes and seek shelter. Cuba could see up to 12 inches of rain from Hurricane Ian.

Hurricane Ian dramatically intensified and is blamed for at least two dozen deaths in Florida; where the storm struck with near category five force winds and a near 20 foot storm surge.

Over 700 rescue operations were activated in Florida in the aftermath of the storm, which is still wreaking havoc in the U.S.

 

Cayman photo credit:  RC Cord

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