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CARICOM Disaster Recovery Mechanism activated

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Kingston, Jamaica, October 10, 2016 – Jamaica has activated the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) disaster recovery assistance mechanism for Haiti and the Bahamas which were impacted by Hurricane Matthew.  This was announced by Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith, during Friday’s (October 7) sitting of the Senate at Gordon House.  Senator Johnson Smith said the engagement will entail teams of Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) soldiers being dispatched to both countries to assist with damage assessments, among other activities.

The JDF’s inputs are being coordinated by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), which was instrumental in formulating the CARICOM disaster recovery assistance mechanism.  Additionally, Senator Johnson Smith, who is Leader of Government Business in the Upper House, said the JDF’s grounds will be used to facilitate the landing and refueling of aircraft and other vessels from countries providing assistance to the affected territories.  These engagements are in keeping with Jamaica’s role in the CARICOM disaster recovery assistance regime, where it is the coordinating body with responsibility for Haiti, the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands.

Meanwhile, Senator Johnson said the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) has activated the ‘Help Haiti’ bank account, which the agency manages on behalf of the Government of Jamaica.  She said the account, which has been established at the National Commercial Bank (NCB) in 2010, is now accepting cash deposits to assist with the provision of assistance to affected Haitians.

The Minister noted that while ODPEM was accepting provisions such as tarpaulins, bottled water and non-perishable foods, they were appealing for financial support,  “which they are able to channel into the purchase of what is needed as the needs lists are compiled.”  She said this would greatly assist in offsetting shipping, storage and delivery costs for relief provisions being sourced.   The account number, which has been posted on ODPEM’s website, is 21-2387304.

Senator Johnson Smith said that as part of the support being provided, arrangements are being made for Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, to speak with Bahamas Prime Minister, Perry Christie, and President Raúl Castro of Cuba, which was also affected, to also determine the level of assistance that can be provided.  In expressing concern for the affected territories, Senator Johnson Smith said,  “we in Jamaica certainly give thanks for having been spared the devastating effects of Hurricane Matthew.”

In his remarks, Senate President, Hon. Tom Tavares-Finson, said several entities have made arrangements to facilitate the provision of assistance to the affected countries.  He noted that Jamaica was “very lucky” to have escaped the hurricane’s onslaught and underscored that,  “we should demonstrate our appreciation of that luck by our generosity towards the various agencies that are seeking to assist.”  The President also urged members of the Senate to participate to the best of their ability and to also encourage others to do the same.

For his part, Leader of Opposition Business in the Upper House, Senator Mark Golding, encouraged members to spare a thought for St. Vincent and the Grenadines, which was also affected, to see how best they too can be assisted.  He contended that the magnitude of Hurricane Matthew underscored the importance of disaster preparation, planning and management over the short, medium and long terms.  “We should ensure that we revisit our processes and all aspects of our disaster response mechanisms, so that we do not find ourselves wanting,”  Senator Golding added.

 

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Bahamas News

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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