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Professor Sir Hilary Beckles calls for multi-donor trust fund for higher education and research in the Caribbean

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The UWI Regional Headquarters, Jamaica. Monday 19 October 2020—The crisis being faced by the higher education sector in the Caribbean brought regional Prime Ministers, Ministers, senior policy makers, representatives from the United Nations, international donor agencies and development banks together virtually on Wednesday, October 14, 2020.  This pivotal meeting themed, “Investing in higher education to build more diversified and resilient post-COVID economies”, which drew over 100 participants was convened jointly with the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLAC) to put a spotlight on the urgent need for investment in the region’s higher education sector.

Among the outcomes at the high level meeting was a call from Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, Vice-Chancellor of The University of the West Indies (The UWI) for a multi-donor trust fund to invest 600 million US dollars over three years for the Caribbean’s human capital development and the establishment of a regional working group to work through the modalities for setting up this critical fund. Qualifying the proposal, he declared that the governments have been doing the best they can and thanked them for their steadfast support to The UWI for over seventy years, but with the economic contraction precipitated by the pandemic, the Caribbean’s higher education system is at risk of systemic decline unless there is urgent investment in the sector.

Wednesday’s virtual Forum was opened by Dr Stacy Richards-Kennedy, Director of the Office of Global Partnerships and Sustainable Futures at The UWI who outlined that the Caribbean Development Roundtable (CDR) and the Caribbean Development and Cooperation Committee (CDCC) convened by ECLAC last month helped to set both the tone and trajectory for this development partner forum. She noted that the Caribbean is facing an “unimaginable conflation of crippling factors and forces” and that there is an urgent need for partnership and collaboration that will provide “tangible opportunities to uplift the millions of young people who are deserving of a higher education but may fall through the cracks opened up by the pandemic, if we fail to act decisively.” Dr Richards-Kennedy commended ECLAC for being swift in its response to support a focused discussion on higher education. 

In his opening remarks, the Forum’s Chairperson, Premier and Minister of Finance of the British Virgin Islands, the Honourable Andrew Fahie, who also serves as a Vice Chair of the ECLAC Caribbean Development and Cooperation Committee, acknowledged that critics may view the forum as another talk shop, but urged participants that it was an opportunity for things to be different. “I believe we have no choice but to work more closely as partners in the Caribbean to survive this crisis and go on to thrive in multiple economic sectors. I am very encouraged by the partnership already in action today by ECLAC and The UWI…they have brought us to this virtual table during this unprecedented moment in history.  Let their partnership be an example to us as we go forward.” 

The Honourable Mia Amor Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados, in her feature address, thanked The UWI and ECLAC for bringing this critical discourse to fruition. She admitted it is not a normal discourse in the middle of a pandemic setting, saying “I don’t think that most persons across the world are looking at the stabilisation of investment in tertiary education.” She added, “Investment ought to be the prism in which we see our expenditure in education…and we must craft a new vision for education in general, inclusive of higher education.” She also emphasized that she was looking forward to seeing the discussions translated into policies that can influence decisions not just regionally, but through UN ECLAC internationally.

Hon. Mia Amor Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados

Following presentations by ECLAC, the IDB and World Bank, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, who is also President of Universities Caribbean, Chairman of the Caribbean Examinations Council and Chairman of the CARICOM Reparations Commission, underscored the importance for the ideas emanating from the discussion to migrate from academic discourse into “practical solutions of an emergency nature required right now to save the region.” Sir Hilary asserted that many individual universities have done well through strategic initiatives, self-help and assistance from development partners but unfortunately, in spite of their self-help culture and responsibility, external shocks have given a sharp blow to Caribbean economies and governments do not have the resources. He shared concern that the university sector is at risk of collapse given the dire current circumstances and called upon multilateral development partners, donor agencies and developed countries to help strengthen the resilience of the Caribbean through investment in human capital development with a special carve out for the higher education and research sector.

Responding to the Vice-Chancellor’s proposal, Chief of the ECLAC subregional headquarters for the Caribbean, Diane Quarless affirmed the importance of ensuring that the positive outcome of this dialogue among development partners results ultimately in durable support for tertiary education in the region through strategic action and resource mobilization. In this ECLAC resolved to remain engaged to explore with all partners a productive way forward.

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Caribbean News

Turks & Caicos Islands Cabinet Report, Meeting held January 10

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#TurksandCaicos, January 26, 2023 – His Excellency the Governor, Nigel Dakin, chaired the 1st meeting of Cabinet on Tuesday 10 January 2023 at the Premier’s Office on Providenciales.

All Members were present.

At this meeting Cabinet:

  • Approved the Fiscal Strategic Policy Statement (FSPS) 2023-27 which includes the fiscal targets of the Government for the next four (4) years to be submitted to the UK Government before being submitted to the House of Assembly for approval. Members also agreed a wide range of associated steps going forwards.
  • Approved an application for duty concessions on the importation of construction materials, furniture, fixtures and fittings from Grace Bay Club Ltd. to allow the resort to complete refurbishment work.
  • Approved an extension and revision to the MOU between the TCI Government and TCI Finance Limited, which leads on the development and growth of Financial Services in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
  • Approved adjustments to the Agriculture Finance Support Programme (Agro- Grant Incentive) for the provision of compensation for registered farms that incurred damages due to Hurricane Fiona in 2022. Members also supported the adoption of a “Farmer Information System”.
  • Approved proposed measures to control the roaming of livestock in the country covering the registration of livestock farms, construction and maintenance of holding facilities, and the transport of livestock.
  • Approved a proposed model and structure for the New Destination Management and Marketing Organisation and Tourism Regulatory Authority. Members also approved an implementation process, the composition of the appointed Board of Directors, staffing implications, and a financing model, including the establishment of Tourism Improvement Districts and the payment of fees by tourism entities.
  • Approved amendments to the Schedule of the Ports Authority (Stevedorers, Fees, and Charges) Regulations 2008, introducing a variation of stevedoring tariffs. Members also agreed next steps.
  • Noted the impact of the moratorium on the issuance of new visas to Hattian nationals originating out of Haiti and approved the implementation of a moratorium on the issuing of all visas to Haitian Nationals entering the Turks and Caicos Islands for six months with effect from 11 January 2023.
  • Approved the granting of a licence to a named individual for the purpose of erecting a swim deck protruding from the Crown parcel 60400/366 into the adjoining sea and the payment of associated annual fees.
  • Approved the renewal of a lease for the rental of office space for the Government’s Planning Department on Providenciales for a period of three years.
  • Discussed the renewal of a lease for the rental of office space for the Government’s Gender Affairs and Social Development Departments on Grand Turk and agreed next steps.
  • Approved the use of existing funds for the use of retrofitting the Turks and Caicos Islands Community College.
  • Approved the gradual outsourcing of janitorial services for government buildings, including schools.
  • Approved the observance of Public Holidays on 8 May 2023 to mark the King’s Coronation and on 19 June 2023 to mark the King’s Birthday.
  • Was updated on issues related to the Ministries of:
  1. Tourism,
  2. Education, and
  3. AG Chambers,
  4. Office of the Deputy Governor, and
  5. Office of the Governor

Further information on these matters will be provided by Ministers in due course.

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Caribbean News

JAMAICA: Multibillion-Dollar Shipyard Project Launched

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#Kingston, Jamaica, January 23, 2023 – Economic opportunities are expected to abound for Jamaica, through the establishment of a multibillion-dollar ship repair and maintenance facility in the country.

Called the German Ship Repair Jamaica (GSRJ) Shipyard, the project will provide dry docking (lifting the ship out of the water) for commercial vessels up to 20,000 tons, and a range of maintenance and repair services to vessels operating in and around the Caribbean and Central America.

Phase one of the project, which is to be completed by October/November this year, is being undertaken at an overall cost of nearly $6 billion (or US$37 million), with financial partner Sagicor Bank committing to half of this amount as a bank loan. This will see the first floating dry dock, JAM-DOCK 1, becoming operational.

Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, who  delivered the main address at Tuesday’s (January 24) launch at the Kingston Harbour along the Sir Florizel Glasspole Highway,  said that “this project will earn foreign exchange”.

“It will provide high-quality jobs, and it will contribute greatly to the prosperity of our country,” he added.

Mr. Holness noted that the development will contribute to the positioning of Kingston Harbour as a global logistics hub, pointing out that each year, Jamaica receives approximately 3,000 port calls while approximately 180,000 vessels operate within the region.

“With the investments that are being made in improving Kingston as a logistic hub, we are certain that we have now closed one of the major gaps that have existed and that more ships passing through the region will be inclined to come to Jamaica,” he said.

For his part, GSRJ Limited Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Colonel Martin Rickman, said that the project “represents a new industry for Jamaica with great opportunities for other spin-off businesses, hence even contributing more to the economy”.

He pointed out that Jamaica’s “excellent geo-strategic location” makes the country particularly suitable for having a shipyard.

Detailing the specific operations of the facility, Colonel Rickman explained that “we here at GSRJ Shipyard will be able to lift that ship out of the water to conduct many types of work on the hull, the propeller, engine repairs and the entire nine yards, so this is significant for us”.

By international maritime law, all ships are required to be dry-docked to check for safety and integrity once every five years and attain class certification.

The CEO said that the training component of the project is crucial to enable  workers to meet the international standards to carry out the required operations.

He informed that some persons have already been trained.

In his remarks, President and CEO of Sagicor Group, Christopher Zacca, said that as lead arranger, the organisation is “confident that this new development will make a significant impact on the country’s shipping industry while also contributing to our productive economy”.

“We want all Jamaicans to share the vision of the stakeholders; this is a big deal for Jamaica and we want Kingston to have the leading ship repair and servicing port in the Caribbean,” Mr. Zacca said.

The GSRJ’s partners include Harren and Partner Group, Germany; Kingston Holding, Jamaica; Kloska Group, Germany and HAT-SAN Shipyard, Turkey.

Government agencies involved in the project are the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ), the National Land Agency (NLA), National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), the Attorney General’s Department, and others.

Several private-sector entities are also involved in making the project a reality.

The GSRJ started business in Jamaica in 2016 with the intention to build a ship-repair facility at the Kingston Harbour to boost employment and introduce the country to viable economic activities in the shipping and maritime industry.

 

Contact:  Mickella Anderson

Release: JIS

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Bahamas News

Statement From The Ministry  of Foreign Affairs – On Order  For All Bahamians  To Leave Haiti

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#TheBahamas, January 26, 2023 – The Prime Minister  has ordered an immediate involuntary  departure from Haiti  of all diplomatic  personnel or as soon as security conditions  permit.Up to this time, there was a voluntary departure order in place and all staff at the embassy  chose to stay.  Per the new instructions, they are to leave for home as soon as conditions  permit.  This is only a temporary  measure in light of recent developments  which require a corporate  security and intelligence  assessment  and restaging.This morning  the Chargè  reported that they had been stopped by Haitian police and relieved of their vehicle and weapons. This is part of a protest by the Haitian National Police against  their own authorities.All of our diplomats are personally  safe.There also is a report  of 5 Bahamians from Bahamasair who landed at Port Au Prince Airport who were unable to leave the environs of the airport.  They are all safe and well.  The security situation  appears less stable over the past three days in the country, and we are taking steps out of an abundance  of caution.The pattern of security concerns is one of ebb and flow and these withdrawals are sometimes  necessary  to regroup.  The Security Forces  in our country have been alerted to these developments.  As soon as conditions  permit a team will be sent back into Haiti without further announcement.PLQ
Courtesy of BIS

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