Sunday, April 30, 2006 

Pursuing a new growth strategy (Pt III)

published: Sunday April 30, 2006

Edward Seaga, Contributor

SO FAR, this series of articles has argued on the one hand that a fixed exchange rate regime produces low inflation, low interest rates, and upper middle to high incomes per capita on a sustained basis.

This contrasts with the outcomes of the inflation-targeting strategy based on a floating exchange rate: higher inflation, higher interest rates, and low to lower-middle incomes per capita.

If we follow through the argument of the merit of a wage-led growth strategy for which suitable employment opportunities would have to be found for a great many workers, then the question of the under-development of the agricultural sector must be squarely faced.

With the filling out of the few remaining potential areas suitable for further hotel development, the expansion plans for maximising exploitation of the mining sector already in place and the relatively marginal potential which exist for increased manufacturing, the only resource base available for substantial productive growth and new employment is agriculture.


The impression is often given that agriculture has no future. The present traditional pattern of agricultural production varies from high technology to no technology. The segment of the sector that lacks technology is also the area of highest under-employment.

Agro 21 proved that technology could transform idle lands into productive fruit orchards, including one of the largest banana plantations (Victoria Banana) and artificial ponds into highly productive aquaculture. Its failure to create a viable export vegetable industry was mostly due to disease and heavy flooding which totally submerged all crops in two of its three-year trial period. It took Mexico seven years to find the right approach to creating a very successful and profitable winter vegetable agricultural operation. Vegetable farming is still an open opportunity for success.

This time, the emphasis should be on organic vegetables, one of the fastest growing areas of agriculture yielding high profit mark-ups. Mariculture has greater possibilities than has yet been exploited to develop seafood delicacies for the great many Chinese outlets on the eastern seaboard of America.

Hydroponics has already established operations with super abundant yields and very low unit costs, undercutting vegetable costs from imported sources and fully supplying local hotels with selected products. This opens the door wide to development of a substantial vegetable export programme supplying hotels throughout the Caribbean.

Biotechnology offers opportunities for the development of nutraceuticals in the health food industry, one of the fastest growing industries. Jamaica has 800 species of plants which are endemic, representing one of the largest biotechnological potentials in the world. Research, while progressing and with some results, has to be expedited.


With all these potentials and others, for these examples are not an exclusive list, what is the plan for agricultural development? There is no plan that I am aware of which assesses the entire agricultural sector fully on the future of crops and livestock. Studies have been carried out on specific crops and particular types of livestock, but no comprehensive approach has been produced capable of presenting a plan to modernise and transform the sector. The time now is very appropriate with the questionable future of sugar, to review the entire sector, incorporating new ideas, new products and new technologies.

Idle hands are only one part of the problem. Idle lands are the other. Productive lands need water for irrigation. St. Catherine alone has 12,000 acres of land which are idle because of lack of irrigation.

A plan developed by Agro 21 in the late 1980s, mapped out the construction of a 500-acre mega reservoir, several times the size of the Mona reservoir, which would trap the floodwaters of the Rio Cobre River, 80 per cent of which now flows to the sea in times of flood rains.

The reservoir would be gravity fed from river to storage and storage to farm, requiring no electrical power. Indeed, it would produce some hydro-electrical power for the national grid. What better solution to put idle lands and idle hands to work than by introducing modern production techniques to introduce new crops based on new thinking and providing new employment?

There is need for planners to take the initiative to create a plan for a modern agricultural sector, as begun by Agro 21, incorporating land use and irrigation needs, assessing crop-by-crop potential, particularly now with concerns about the future of sugar.

This type of planning was done for industry in the preparation of an Industrial Policy a few years ago, notwithstanding the adversities of limited local raw materials for industry and the burden of exceptionally high electricity costs. Why not for agriculture, a sector endowed with resources and manpower relying little on electrical energy?

I repeat, agriculture represents the only remaining resource base with substantial potential for expansion of production. Giving up on agriculture is an option which we cannot afford.


There is another imperative for reviving the agricultural sector. Poverty is synonymous with small-scale farming in Jamaica. The statistics confirm this. There is little hope for overcoming poverty without brighter prospects for small farming.

One of the great socio-economic divides of Jamaica is the distribution of income which has traditionally maintained two classes of people, the "haves" and the "have nots", as I labelled them more than 40 years ago. Here again, improving incomes would rely on better prospects in the small farming sector.

The abundance of resources with which Jamaica is richly endowed: fertile land, inviting climate, strategic geography, abundant minerals, resourceful people and a vibrant culture, compared to other countries which were not then, but are now, far more successful than Jamaica, this tells a sad story of inability to shut our eyes to the failures of the past and open them to visions of the future.

For there is a future, but only if we are bold enough to grasp it with earnest conviction and a profound determination to establish beyond any doubt that Jamaica has no reason to be poor.

© Copyright 1997-2006 Gleaner Company Ltd.


Sunday April 30, 2006

Foreign leader impressed by education approach

LIMKOKWING University College’s “avant garde approach to education” has impressed St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph E. Gonsalves so much that he has decided to send his students to Malaysia.

“Your university has taken me by surprise. You have taken a practical yet avant garde approach to education,” he said after he was taken on a tour of the campus by the university college’s president Tan Sri Lim Kok Wing.

Dr Gonsalves found out more about the university’s industry-within-university concept, touring such facilities as the National Branding and Packaging Design Centre.

“I will persuade my colleagues in the Caribbean region to send students to Limkokwing to study. I am confident our young will benefit from the experience,” he said, adding that the Caribbean island nations are in the process of becoming a federation.

He said his country needed to break out from the cocoon as “we are still somewhat imprisoned by the ethos of an old world.”

“Malaysia is one of the countries that small and developing countries have to get close to,” he said.

Dr Gonsalves accepted Lim’s invitation to be a visiting professor and plans to spend some time giving lectures at the university college this year.

He, in turn, has invited Lim to be a member of his country’s Global Advisory Board.
Lim said Limkokwing would also consider other forms of support, including transfer of technology.

“We discussed how we could lend support to his government in such areas as promotion of tourism and trade,” said Lim.

St Vincent and the Grenadines, a country made up of more than 30 islands, has agriculture as its biggest economic activity, followed by a dynamic tourism industry, and an offshore financial centre that is growing rapidly. It is fast moving into a service economy.

Copyright © 1995-2006 Star Publications (Malaysia) Bhd

Saturday, April 29, 2006 

Meeting in Beijing:
Chinese Government and ECLAC to Strengthen Cooperation in the Field of Economic Development
Zeng Peiyan, Vice Premier of the State Council of China, met with José Luis Machinea, Executive Secretary of this regional United Nations commission.

(25 April, 2006) A delegation of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), headed by its Executive Secretary, José Luis Machinea, met with the Vice Premier of the State Council of China, Zeng Peiyan, on Monday 24 April in Beijing. Zeng Peiyan expressed his government's interest in increasing exchanges with this regional United Nations commission.

During the meeting, delegates discussed the status of relations between China and Latin America and the Caribbean, analysing the different mechanisms available to increase cooperation between ECLAC and the Chinese government.

As one of the members of the State Council of China, Zeng Peiyan is one of the country's highest ranking authorities. He praised ECLAC's important role in developing economic cooperation with China.

He emphasized that as developing countries, China and the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean share much in common on many key international issues and are complementary in economic terms. Moreover, he placed a high value on the relations between both parties and expressed his intentions of deepening political ties, economic cooperation and cultural exchanges "to ensure the development of friendly, mutually beneficial cooperation," he added.

Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan belongs to the Political Bureau and the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. During his lengthy career he has held other positions, among them, Vice-Minister of the Electronics Industry, Vice-Minister of Construction, Deputy Secretary-General of the Central Economic and Financial Leading Group, and Vice-Minister of the State Planning Commission.
Since 2003, he has been Deputy Leader of the State Council Leading Group for Informatization, Deputy Director of the Three Gorges Project Construction Committee, and Head of the Office of the State Council Leading Group for Western China Development.

Also participating in the meeting were Vice-Minister Liu He, of the Office of the Leading Group on Financial and Economic Affairs, headed by the President of the People's Republic of China, Hu Jintao. This body is composed of the top-ranking leaders of the country's administration. In this position, Liu He has played a vital role in developing China's macroeconomic policy.

José Luis Machinea took advantage of the occasion to invite Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan to visit ECLAC's headquarters in Santiago, Chile. Zeng Peiyan thanked him and indicated he planned to travel to Chile in the near future.

The ECLAC delegation, which also included Robert Devlin, Regional Advisor in ECLAC's Washington office, and Andras Uthoff, Officer in Charge of ECLAC's Social Development Division, was in Beijing to take part in the Second Economic Policy Dialogue.
Seminar on Economic Policy of Latin America-PR China, organized by the German Cooperation Agency GTZ, in which Vice-Minister Liu He was participating, and during which distinguished experts exchanged experiences regarding current trends and challenges facing economic and social policies in Latin America and the People's Republic of China.

For questions, please contact ECLAC Information Services:; Tel: (56 2) 210 2380/2149.

Friday, April 28, 2006 

April 28, 2006

“Greening” at IDB headquarters and country offices

The IDB’s 2005 Sustainability Review discusses the Bank’s sustainable practices both in the field and at home

You can learn a lot from the back of a Starbuck’s napkin. Above the friendly recycling arrows, it relays that the product is made from 100 percent recycled fibers, at least 40 percent post-consumer material and that no bleach was used in its production, a mini advertisement for the company’s environmental savviness.

This informal way to disclose corporate sustainable practices to coffee drinkers worldwide is reflective of the trail blazed by private companies over the past decade in issuing reports on corporate social responsibility.

Commercial banks have also joined this trend, publicizing issues related to sustainability within their business practices. Reflective of the mounting interest in corporate social responsibility among private sector banks are the growing ranks of institutions that have adopted the Equator Principles, a framework to help financial institutions manage social and environmental issues in their operations. Largely stemming from the reporting initiatives of private sector banks, multilateral development institutions have begun to follow suit by compiling more comprehensive sustainability reports on their activities, building upon already existing practices of annually reporting on their environmental and social track records.

The first of its kind for the IDB, the 2005 Sustainability Review provides a panorama of the Bank’s overarching commitment to environmentally and socially sound development strategies in Latin America and the Caribbean, including initiatives to improve regional policy, regulatory and institutional frameworks for sustainable social and environmental management.

Integral to the IDB’s process of completing its first sustainability review has been deciding how to define sustainability and understanding what it means to the Bank, a task that’s more complex than it appears at first glance. In its most basic form, the review defines sustainable development as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs, a definition which is applicable to both the IDB’s in-country and in-house operations.

An overview of in-house efforts to minimize the Bank’s corporate footprint at Bank Headquarters in Washington D.C., the 26 country offices throughout the region and the Paris and Tokyo offices, is also included in the review.

Minimizing the IDB’s corporate footprint

From cutting emissions and implementing the use of eco-friendly paint and carpet cleaner to installing water-free urinals, the Bank is making strides towards “greening” itself from within.

As part of the overarching goal to mainstream sustainability into all areas of corporate operations, the IDB began a process of self-evaluation in 2005, starting with Bank Headquarters. By closely examining the facility’s consumption patterns and major emissions, problem areas were pinpointed and plans of action developed.

One of the first issues to be tackled following this evaluation was water consumption, which fell by 9 percent from 2004 to 2005—from 21.2 to 19.2 million gallons—after water-free urinals were installed throughout the two main buildings. Following this initial improvement in water savings, the Bank expects to see more significant decreases in future years.

Overall energy consumption also decreased from 2004 to 2005, and consequently, so did emissions such as carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides.

According to the review, the IDB recycles about 10 tons of paper, aluminum, glass and plastic each month and in 2004, begun to crush and recycle all fluorescent light bulbs, a process which reduces the amount of mercury waste that ends up landfills. Additionally, all waste paper and photocopier toners are recycled.

Greening from within

Giving older buildings a “green” facelift by replacing existing fixtures and systems with cost-effective sustainable alternatives is a gradual process.

Part of this process is rethinking the use of everyday products, from the various sprays and foams used to clean the bathrooms to toilet paper and paper towels. The Bank only uses eco-friendly cleaning products, over 40 percent of which are Green Seal approved, and over half of the paper products used have the same seal of approval. The Green Seal paint standard is also increasingly being adhered to and all paper products in bathrooms and pantries are now made from 80 percent recycled materials.

The IDB is currently working towards meeting the LEED-EB building standard, or the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design’s Green Building Standard for Existing Buildings. This rating system of design standards provides a baseline from which to measure a building’s operational efficiency, as well as progress made towards implementing environmentally sound practices.

Additionally, in revamping its country offices, the IDB has increased the use of solar energy and is conserving energy through various insulation techniques, motion and heat sensors, low consumption lighting and water fixtures and more efficient air filters.

In concluding, the 2005 Sustainability Review provides concrete examples of the moves the IDB is making towards minimizing its environmental and social impact, while also signaling that much work remains on the path towards adopting truly sustainable practices.

Also available in: Español

© 2006 Inter-American Development Bank. All rights reserved.


27 April 2006

UNDP and Japan Bank for International Cooperation forge partnership to fight poverty

UNDP and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) have agreed to join forces to end poverty across the world.

The two organizations agreed on 20 initiatives in more than 10 countries. These include an initiative in Cambodia, where JBIC and UNDP will address HIV/AIDS in the work place in the context of the expansion of Sihanoukville port, which is also known as the “virus harbor.” Also, a proposal for Northeast Thailand will look at providing employment opportunities to poor farmers affected by the agricultural reform and reduction of deforestation in the area.

“This is a milestone in our partnership with JBIC, and I expect to see the MOU translated into actual collaborative activities in many parts of the world,” UNDP Administrator Kemal Dervis said in Tokyo, where he signed a partnership agreement between UNDP and JBIC to work towards promoting the MDGs.

For further information, please contact: Akiko Fujii in Tokyo at:, or Dominic Sam in New York at:


THA spends $6m on community centres in 6 villages
Friday, April 28th 2006

The Tobago House of Assembly is spending in excess of $6 million to deliver community centres to six villages this year.

So far centres at Bethel and Hope have been delivered at a cost of $2.5 million and $75,000 respectively. The Glamorgan centre costing $3.5 million was due for delivery on Wednesday. Centres are also being constructed at Whim, Mt St George and Parlatuvier.

Assistant Secretary of Community Development and Culture Wendell Berkley disclosed this at last week's post Executive Council press briefing. He said the centres would serve as a home for the communities to carry out their activities and urged villagers to reorganise their village councils and to tap on the human resources in their areas. He also urged them to seek out areas to raise revenue to assist them in carrying out their activities and referred to the recent Mt Pleasant Sports and Family Day and the Buccoo Crab and Goat races. He congratulated the organisers in these two villages for their successful events.

Meanwhile the Division of Community Development and Culture is organising it annual May Pole Festival for May 16 at a venue to be announced. The festival is normally held at the Shaw Park Cultural Complex but this is currently under reconstruction at a cost of $50 million.

© Tobago News


Friday 28 April 2006

The Verdonk-law should not apply to Aruban citizens

Frank Bovenkerk

CURACAO – Criminologist Frank Bovenkerk, professor criminology at the University of Utrecht contended this week in the correspondence columns of NRC Handelsblad that sending Antilles youngsters back to the Antilles is discriminatory. “But when you discriminate, you should do it right. I simply do not understand why this regulation also has to apply to the more than 100.000 Aruban citizens.”

In 1995, Bovenkerk pointed out the great deal of immigrants in the criminality that led to the establishment of the CRIEM-project, and a note on nature, volume, and reasons of criminality amongst ethnic minorities.

He did this to the parliamentary inquiry committee Criminal Investigation methods. According to Bovenkerk, such discriminatory measure as Minister Rita Verdonk (Immigration and Integration, VVD) had proposed, can only be supported if it can solve a very serious problem, and that may be the case. “If the Antillean government does not cooperate, I do not see another possibility other than sending them back.” That is discriminatory towards the majority part of Antilleans that are non-criminal, ‘but administratively I do not see how it can be done differently’.

He does not understand why the measure also applies to Arubans. From all the criminal figures in the Netherlands as well as in Aruba, very few Arubans are in the criminality.

From an inquiry in 1996 it even appears that the criminality in Aruba is not even one-fourth of that in the Netherlands. “Maybe this is due to the relative progress or the grip that the roman-catholic church still has on the nation. There is in any case no reason to stigmatize the residents of this island by including them in the bill to keep out criminal Antillean citizens.”

© Copyright 2001,


Survey shows poverty decline
Observer Reporter
Friday, April 28, 2006

THE 2005 Jamaica Survey of Living Conditions, tabled in Parliament yesterday by Finance Minister Omar Davies, showed that poverty declined last year, when compared to the previous year.

The survey, a joint publication by the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) and the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN), said "the incidence of poverty declined by 2.1 percentage points to 14.8 per cent" over the 2004 figure.

According to the survey, between 1995 and 2005 the poverty level declined by nearly half (12.7) from 27.5 per cent. This has not been a steady fall, however, since there was a 2.8 percentage increase between 1998 and 2000, and 2001 and 2002. Since that time, however, lower poverty levels have been recorded, the document said.

The study showed that the decline was greatest within the Kingston Metropolitan Area (KMA) - Kingston and St Andrew, Portmore and Spanish Town. The 2005 figure for the KMA was 9.6 per cent, 4.7 percentage points less than the corresponding period, while other towns fell by 0.6 percentage points and rural areas by 0.1 percentage points to 7.2 per cent and 21.1 per cent, respectively.

Copyright© 2000-2001 Jamaica Observer. All Rights Reserved

Thursday, April 27, 2006 

Ethics and Development
Inter-American Initiative on Social Capital, Ethics and Development

April 26, 2006
No. 174


"La Agricultura Familiar en un Contexto de Apertura Comercial: "Impactos y Perspectivas"" by Luis Alejandro Acosta, Marcos Sebastián Rodríguez and Jorge Ortiga for FAO.
This article published by the Regional office for Latin America and the Caribbean of the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization seeks to present the different effects trade liberalization may have on family agriculture and lays out possible solutions for each scenario.


Clergy asked to support Urban Renewal

Bahamas Information Services

Minister of Social Services, Melanie Griffin (seated) gets a hands on feel of the equipment. Also pictured are Commissioner of Police Paul Farquharson, Mrs Rosemary Thompson, and Mrs Corene Thompson, wife and mother respectively of late Archdeacon William E Thompson. (BIS photo by Gladstone Thurston)

NASSAU, The Bahamas – In a passionate plea to members of the clergy, Prime Minister the Rt Hon Perry Christie invited them to join the Government in fighting the social ills plaguing the country, through the Urban Renewal Progamme.

He issued the invitation during a meeting held Thursday, April 20, at Superclubs Breezes, where the clergymen received an extensive overview of the Urban Renewal Programme and the challenges that need to be addressed.

“We can make a major difference if we put our hands to the wheel to make it happen,” the Prime Minister told the clergymen. Presentations were made by Dr. Desiree Cox, Consultant, Urban Renewal Transformation and Research Unit; ASP Elseworth Moss; Supt Keith Bell and Dr Nicollette Bethel, Director of CultureThe audience, which also comprised members of the Cabinet, were updated; via slide presentations, on crime statistics, the rise in child pornography, an assortment of sharp weapons confiscated from students, amongst other issues. “The idea and invitation was predicated on the fact that I am of the considered view that we do not do enough as a Government and we do not do enough as a people in our country to firstly, understand the challenges that our people face and giving ourselves sufficient time to strategise, to design ways of overcoming the challenges,” the Prime Minister said.

He noted however, that the issues are not going to be solved in one day. Rather, by following examples of other countries which faced similar challenges and have designed programmes for success and for The Bahamas to implement them.

Having served as a Cabinet Minister since the 1970s, the Prime Minister said he has seen a number of issues addressed, and that in every file in Government, there have been strategies to deal with these challenges.

“But for whatever reason, there has never been this picture painted of challenges where we are able to take one, as a Government, a comprehensive, unified, integrated and coordinated approach to solving the problems because on a given day, the department or ministry is trying to deal with the problems of that day,” he said.

The Prime Minister noted that although there are trained personnel in place, governments have not effectively utilised planning strategies to tackle the issues.

He said that the reason why he has been so strong on the church making a commitment is because the Government does not have by itself, the resources to engage in the measuring and monitoring we do.

According to the Prime Minister, it is not the intention for politicians to exploit Urban Renewal, but to create the mechanism for the community to steer the programme.

“We need bodies and we need leaders. The most effective leaders are in the church,” he said. “Unless we are able to be relevant to the people, through relevant programmes and relevant approaches, we are not going to understand these challenges until we are going to have to make them up. The brainchild of Prime Minister the Rt Hon Perry Christie and devised by Police Commissioner Paul Farquharson, the scheme, which started out as the Farm Road Project, can be viewed as one of the most ambitious crime reduction experiments undertaken by the Police Force in recent history.

The scheme exists in Bain and Grants Town, Englerston, St. Cecilia, Fort Charlotte, and Grand Bahama. Plans are underway to institute the programme throughout the country

© 2005 The Official Website of The Government of the Bahamas. All rights reserved


Ministry of Education & Youth

Cabinet to Review National Youth Policy Strategic Plan Shortly

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The strategic plan, which was developed to guide the implementation of the revamped National Youth Policy, is set to go before Cabinet in May of this year.

Director of the National Centre for Youth Development (NCYD), Ohene Blake made this disclosure in a recent JIS News Interview.

Mr. Blake said the Plan, which has been ready for quite some time, had to undergo a series of consultations to ensure that it was accepted by the youth development sector.

"The consultations began in 2004 but what was envisioned in the beginning was that since we had undergone the consultation with the Policy, we would just roll straight into our strategic plan without further consultation. However, what came to light was that most of those consultations would have been done between 2001 and 2003 and at least half of the cohort would have moved out of the age group .that delayed the process," Mr. Blake explained.

In addition to this the process was further delayed by the 2002 general elections, which saw several ministry portfolios being realigned.

"The shifting of portfolios meant we had to go through another round of consultations," the NCYD Director pointed out.

In the meantime however, he said much had been done towards the implementation of some of the more defined objectives of the Policy with regard to youth participation and empowerment.
"Ten of the 12 strategic objectives under employment and participation, which is one of the six focal areas identified under the Policy, have been implemented," Mr. Blake informed.

"We haven't just simply waited. What we have done is began to implement some of the clear areas, such as participation and empowerment, as much of that falls under the purview of the National Centre for Youth Development and so we have pursued that vigorously. I don't think we could have sat and waited because there are serious issues facing our young persons," the NCYD Director said.

He noted that this was evidenced in the establishment of the National Youth Council, advocacy for a cultural policy, and a cultural curriculum. To this end, a new Culture Policy has been formulated and is to be put forward for Cabinet's approval.

In the meantime the National Youth Parliament and the Jamaica Youth Ambassadors Programme have been established, while the facilitation of international youth exchange programmes, to ensure fair coverage for all priority groups in youth exchange opportunities, have been strengthened.

Further efforts have seen the revamping and institutionalization of the National Secondary Youth Council and the Jamaica Union of Tertiary Students, with increased financial support to uniformed groups such as, the Boy's Scouts and Brigade, Girl Guide groups, the Young Men's Christian Association and the Young Women's Christian Association, which were objectives of the Youth Policy with regard to employment and participation.

"So I think that's the focal area of the youth policy that has bolted out of the blocks the quickest because that falls under the NCYD," Mr. Blake pointed out. In addition he said dialogue was ongoing with the Office of the Prime Minister to see the "appointment of young people to government Boards and the boards of statutory organizations and having the policy reflect what was agreed in the National Youth Policy where young people within the ages of 18-24 ought to be on every single government Board and committee dealing with the decision making of the nation".

"We will be going into further dialogue with voluntary organizations that have Boards and committees set up, that they must include young persons. So I think we are well ahead on achieving those objectives," the Director said.

He however expressed a desire to see more priority being given to "youth who are not benefiting from the education system, inclusive of teenage mothers, youth in institutional care or incarceration, as well as children from deep rural communities and farming communities in the drive to achieve a fulsome solution to the education system".

In the meantime he had high commendations for the Policy, which he said unlike its 1994 predecessor had taken on "a life cycle approach to youth development".

Mr. Blake said the Policy has been recognized worldwide as being at the cutting edge of youth development and that the life cycle approach was one of the reasons that it had been crafted as part of the development agenda. "So the life span of the Policy is for 2015 and we would expect to have an updated Policy in 2014," he added.

"We have taken a long term view of youth development as opposed to the short-term view of the first policy. young people don't wake up at age 15, so with all their issues. They have arrived at age 15 over a process of development during childhood and if you are going to effectively address the issues of the youth cohort you have to look carefully at what is happening in the child cohort because if you were to address it holistically all you would be doing is remedial work at age 15. to be very proactive you have to go to early childhood development," he observed, noting that the issues had to be approached from the early childhood stage.

The National Youth Policy addresses issues such as: employment and entrepreneurship; youth health; education, training, care and protection; participation and empowerment and explores ways to provide young Jamaicans with opportunities to develop their full mental, social, spiritual and physical potential, through the provision of training programmes.

The accompanying strategic plan document specifies the plans for implementation of the Policy and will also focus on the priority areas for youth development, the cost of the activities, and the source of funding among other things.

Copyright © 1996 -2003, Jamaica Information Service, All rights reserved


International Conference
November 14-15, 2006
Washington D.C., United States


The international donor community has called for the halving of global poverty by 2015. An increasing challenge to meeting this goal is reaching the poor in conflict and fragile states. While a significant body of knowledge exists on the interconnectedness of poverty and conflict, few studies analyze the links between conflict and state fragility on the one hand and state fragility and poverty on the other hand. Furthermore, little research on the inter-relatedness of these dynamics has been done at the micro-economic level.

USAID’s Office of Poverty Reduction (PR), the Households in Conflict Network (HiCN) and the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) plan to co-sponsor a two-day international conference on the special challenge of poverty reduction in conflict and fragile states. Examining the relationship between conflict and state fragility at the household level provides an opportunity to understand how these factors affect household behavior, welfare and poverty. This, in turn, is important for shaping successful programmatic and policy responses.

The conference will target researchers, development practitioners, and policy-makers engaged in these issues. It is hoped that the mix of academic and experiential papers to be presented will help reduce knowledge gaps in these areas and advance both research and practice on this theme. The organizers also hope to promote increased collaboration between international researchers through this conference.

Call for papers

In addition to broad sessions led by guest speakers, the conference will include a number of parallel break-out sessions, which will focus on sub-themes. This call for papers invites submissions for papers to be presented in the break-out sessions. Submissions should address one or more of the following or related areas:

Issues/Drivers of poverty, conflict, or fragility
- inequality and social exclusion
- assets and livelihoods
- health, mortality, HIV/AIDS
- food security and nutrition- risk/vulnerability and coping strategies

- individuals, households or groups
- women, youth or children
- refugees, displaced people, returnees
- public and private institutions
- demobilization and reintegration- diaspora

- agriculture, rural development and land reform
- natural resource management
- labor and employment
- migration and remittances
- private sector recovery
- micro-finance, credit, savings, and insurance

Public Policy/Good Governance
- basic service delivery (health, infrastructure, etc.)
- national and international public goods
- community, local or national leadership
- public finance reform and the household
- security sector reform and the household
- aid and the international community

Concepts, Methods and Evaluation
- definitions and concepts of fragile states
- methodological and data issues
- ethical issues
- program evaluation and lessons learned

Potential authors include academic researchers and practitioners. Papers may be conceptual, empirical, or policy-oriented. Particular consideration will be given to submissions that discuss the inter-relatedness of poverty, conflict, and state fragility from a micro-economic perspective. Papers exploring the conceptual foundation of the term “fragile states” including how to define and measure “fragility” are also welcome.

Paper submission

Preference will be given to full papers of up to 20 pages. However, shorter draft papers or detailed proposals for papers (of 5-7 pages) will also be considered.

Submissions should be sent (with a short CV) in Word or PDF format to Christine Binzel,, no later than June 12, 2006. Authors of selected papers will be notified by June 30, 2006. Completed papers are due by September 30, 2006.


April, 27 - 11:54 AM

E-government will take the DR out of obsolescence, Fernandez says

SANTO DOMINGO.- President Leonel Fernandez affirmed that the implementation of the electronic government will assure that the Dominican Republic will gradually eliminate the hindrances and difficulties of the obsolete model of State management.

He said that the electronic government is the correct route, because it means that a model is adopted at the vanguard of changes, challenges and transformations that the times and this new century demand.

"This is not for fashion, it is not to be in the most modern or current, it is not a whim, it is not because we want to imitate anybody, but because the development tendencies at international level and at the vanguard, indicate that direction for us," said the chief executive in a interview for the Presidential Office for Information and Communication Technology (OPTIC) magazine.

For Fernandez, if the citizenship in general aspires to advance toward development, it must understand that it is necessary to undertake actions that help increase the competition, preparation and productivity levels.

"When installing an electronic government system using the mechanisms and tools of information and communication technologies, starting then we will be improving the government’s productive capacity.

In other words, it is to obtain the benefits of a greater efficiency and effectiveness, to be able to generate more at a lower cost and with greater impact on the common wellbeing, that it serves as a benefit for the entire Dominican society," he said.

The chief executive stressed that it is about a shift of paradigms, a change of the economic and social development model, with which Dominicans will get closer to a democratic and participative society.

Regarding OPTIC’s role Fernandez stated that it was created at the start of his Administration to head and develop the Electronic Government strategy. He added that its purpose is so that once concluded his term in office, tangible and measurable benefits can be seen and felt that this initiative will bring with it.

"OPTIC has developed its plan strategy to implement the Electronic Government which the country requires and that the government promotes. In addition, it has the responsibility of coordinating with the other Government institutions the application of this strategy," he said.
According to Fernandez, Dominican Republic has sufficient will and desire to develop the electronic government "within a framework adhering to the modernization of a modern society, to be immersed in a Information Society towards a Society of Knowledge."

The chief executive said that there are great opportunities to position the Dominican Republic at equal levels of other countries in the region and the world, for being a reference point in applications of Electronic Government.

"Nowadays we are seen as a dynamic country and with much future, we are being seen as a model and that must be our vision," he added.

Dominican Today - Portal Alta Tecnologia


Virtual Round Table: Poverty Reduction Network


DURATION: 18 April – June 2006

GUEST MODERATORS: Dorothy Rosenberg, Policy Adviser, MDGs & Civil Society, UNDP, Bureau of Development Policy, Poverty Group, Email:

Cindy Berman, Social Development Adviser, Policy Division, DFID, Email:



In September 2005 Poverty Reduction Network (PRN) Members selected ‘Social Inclusion: Strategies for targeting excluded groups’ as one of their top two priorities areas for discussion. This virtual round table is designed to bring together a variety of organizations, experts and practitioners working to confront social exclusion in developing countries. Round Table resource persons (listed below) will contribute their perspectives and experiences in the context of particular discussion questions. Members of the network, as always, are encouraged to share their own experiences and suggestions.


There are groups of people in all societies who are systematically disadvantaged because they are discriminated against. They are more likely to be denied access to income, assets and services. These persons suffer from social exclusion. Poverty reduction policies often fail to reach socially excluded groups unless they are specifically designed to do so. Rather than discuss individually socially excluded groups (such as the disabled, indigenous groups, women, ethnic minorities etc.) this discussion will focus on the challenges posed by social exclusion in the context of poverty reduction and the most effective strategies governments, civil society and donors can use to tackle these challenges.

The discussion will begin with arguments about why social exclusion matters for poverty reduction. The goal of the initial section is to agree on a working concept of social exclusion and articulate the case for prioritizing social exclusion as an approach for reducing poverty. The second part of the discussion will aim to share experiences with policies and programmes intended to confront social exclusion. Such efforts are divided into legal and regulatory frameworks, social protection, and improving access to high-quality services. The third section will focus specifically on the role of civil society in addressing social exclusion and the final section will focus on the additional challenges of addressing social exclusion in a post-conflict context.


Virtually no country immune from human trafficking, UNODC report shows

VIENNA, 24 April 2006 - Virtually no country in the world is unaffected by the crime of human trafficking for sexual exploitation or forced labour, a new report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) shows.

The report on "Trafficking In Persons: Global Patterns," published on Monday, identifies 127 countries of origin, 98 transit countries and 137 destination countries. It shows that global efforts to combat trafficking are being hampered by a lack of accurate data, reflecting the unwillingness of some countries to acknowledge that the problem affects them.

"It is extremely difficult to establish how many victims there are world-wide as the level of reporting varies considerably, but the number certainly runs into millions," said UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa. "It is difficult to name a country that is not affected in some way.".......

Trafficking in Persons - Global Patterns



Copyright © 2006 UNODC, All Rights Reserved


Post grad students launch test preparation website for major Caribbean examinations

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

FORT LAUDERDALE, USA: A group of Caribbean post graduate students have launched an online website, that will give Caribbean schoolchildren access to more than 4,000 English, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies practice questions.

The student training system found at features over forty full-length, timed, computer-adaptive tests whose delivery simulates that of the actual exam. It includes resources for parents, practice questions, answers, and explanations (via an online help desk), as well as a comprehensive Language Arts review section.

The website provides resources to enhance the preparation process for the following examinations:

° Grade Level Assessment Test (GLAT),
° Common Entrance Examination (CEE),
° Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT),
° Continuous Assessment Programme (CAP), and
° Grade Nine Achievement Test (GNAT).

After a student takes a practice test, they receive their scores instantly. They are able to review each of the test questions to see which items they missed. The system allows students to return and rework the questions they got wrong on the practice test with a view to developing successful test-taking strategies.

The site also features a real-time online grade book that identifies the student’s weaknesses and strengths, allowing them to focus on the areas that most need improvement.

The website’s exclusive examination techniques will show students super speed methods to get through the questions they know with ease, saving then time so they can concentrate on the hardest questions without rushing. Students will also:

° Learn to avoid procrastination.
° Learn to tell the difference between right answers and clever-sounding traps.
° Learn the secret to using contextual clues to make important distinctions between right and wrong answer choices.

"We are very excited to provide Caribbean students with this opportunity to improve their chances on their examinations," said Shalette Ashman-East, who spearheaded the project.

Technological infrastructure for the system is provided by the Institute for Mathematics and Computer Science, an educational research institute based in South Florida.

"We've undergone many months of pilot testing, and we're delighted with the response now that it is widely available," Ashman-East said.

Copyright © 2003-2006 Caribbean Net News All Rights Reserved


Conférence annuelle des médias des Caraïbes à l’occasion de la Journée mondiale de la liberté de la presse

27-04-2006 (Kingston)

Pour célébrer la Journée mondiale de la liberté de la presse, les médias des Caraïbes organisent leur conférence annuelle les 2 et 3 mai 2006 à Bridgetown (Barbade) sur le thème « Liberté de la presse et développement humain dans les Caraïbes ».

Cette conférence régionale est organisée conjointement par le Bureau de l’UNESCO à Kingston, l’Union de radiodiffusion des Caraïbes (CBU), l’Agence de presse des Caraïbes (CANA) et l’Unité de recherche sur les médias de l’Ecole de commerce de Mona.

Elle sera consacrée au thème principal de la Journée mondiale de la liberté de la presse 2006, « Médias, développement et éradication de la pauvreté », à travers un débat sur la liberté de la presse et le développement humain dans les Caraïbes. Au cours de ces manifestations, la Conférence des médias des Caraïbes (CCM) sera recentrée et relancée. Il s’agit du seul forum régional qui rassemble chaque année les professionnels de la presse écrite et de la radiotélévision. L’annonce de la coopération entre la CBU et la CANA pour accueillir le secrétariat de la CCM sera faite à cette occasion. Une cinquantaine de patrons des médias, de responsables et de journalistes de vingt pays ou îles des Caraïbes participeront à la conférence.

Etant donné le thème choisi cette année, des représentants des organisations de défense des droits de l’homme et du secteur du développement seront également présents.

Une présentation publique sur la corrélation entre la liberté de la presse et le développement économique dans la société contemporaine aux Caraïbes aura lieu pendant la cérémonie d’ouverture. D’autres présentations ou mini-ateliers seront organisés pendant ces deux jours :

° Le rôle des médias dans l’intégration des Caraïbes (présentateur de TBA);

° Autonomiser les citoyens via l’accès aux moyens de communication et d’information (présentateur de TBA);

° Les médias des Caraïbes et les Objectifs du Millénaire pour le développement (OMD) des Nations Unies.

© Copyright UNESCO, 2005

Wednesday, April 26, 2006 

Health cover headache
Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Sharon Roulstone, Chairman of the Board of Directors of CINICO and Gordon Rowell, CEO of CINICO

In its second year of operation, the biggest challenge for the Cayman Islands National Insurance Company (CINICO) is controlling health care costs, which are rising every year.

The CEO of CINICO, Gordon Rowell explained that health care is something that many countries have to grapple with. For instance in the US, there is high accessibility to health care, but it is very expensive and large segments of the population are uninsured. In the UK, Canada and similar countries with national health care, it is affordable to everyone, but there is limited access.

“The public has grown to expect health insurance to pay for everything,” said Mr Rowell. “The challenge will always be balancing accessibility to health care and the costs. The public wants maximum benefits at minimum costs. But you can’t trim costs without taking something away and people don’t want that.”

Mr Rowell noted that one of the primary reasons for setting up CINICO was to provide access to health insurance to people who would otherwise be denied or have difficulty getting cover.
This includes people over 60 years old, in a low-income bracket, seafarers, indigents and people with health impairments. It also provides insurance to civil servants.

The coverage varies depending on which group that an individual falls into. But civil servants have virtually unlimited benefits including dental and vision while the low income and health impaired have a more basic medical coverage plan.

Since CINICO is a non-profit entity it designed its operations to break-even including paying claims and administration. CINICO premiums are primarily paid by Government with some premiums paid by individuals.

According to Mr Rowell 65 percent of health care costs are due to outpatient care, which in CINICO’s terms, is anything that is non-surgical. This would include doctor visits, pharmacy, x-rays, physiotherapy and dialysis.

However, these costs are escalating, because there are many people who overuse the health care services, as there is little to no direct cost to them at the time of use, as individual patients.
In fact, Caribbean Home Insurance Company became insolvent because of the overwhelming number of claims and got to the point where the Government was forced to self-insure. And since there were no controls or discounts in place, Government paid significantly more in health care costs.

Mr Rowell said the remaining 35 percent of the costs are for overseas medical care, which has traditionally been a big portion of the costs. But these are starting to come under control because it has implemented access to health care networks, which allows people insured with CINICO to get discounts for overseas services.
Mr Rowell estimated that CINICO has saved $3.92 million since July 2005 from overseas discounts.

Mr Rowell said one of the impediments to controlling costs has been the lack of data from its main provider, Health Services Authority (HSA).
This information is critical as CINICO needs to identify huge holes in the health care network where money is being unnecessarily wasted or defrauded. However, Mr Rowell said there has been significant progress as representatives of CINICO and HSA have met several times in recent months to work on the billing issues.

Another initiative CINICO is working on is to get a higher level of reinsurance. Reinsurance allows Government to put a cap on the amount of losses of providing health care such as catastrophic disease afflicting a large number of the population. This would limit the costs the Government would have to bear to a certain level.

Although concrete figures were not available by press time it is estimated there are 11,000 people insured with CINICO, which includes civil servants, their dependents and retired civil servants.

The remaining number is spread out among the various groups.
The population of people over 65 is expected to more than triple to 11,300 by 2025. And it is expected the need for CINICO will increase as private insurers start to decline coverage for people as they reach 60 years-old.

Copyright © 2003 - 2006 Cayman Net Ltd All Rights Reserved


Tax rules may hamper pension reform

published: Wednesday April 26, 2006
Brian J. Denning, Contributor


AS DR. Omar Davies, Minister of Finance and Planning, prepares to deliver his 2006/07 Budget tomorrow, it is hoped that the minister will amend certain tax rules which may otherwise have a negative impact on the nation's pension reform programme.

The Government's 2001 White Paper on Pension Reform stated that the reform of Jamaica's pensions regime has two key features:

The enhancement of Jamaica's social security system - National Insurance Scheme - so that more meaningful benefits can be provided to eligible contributors and their beneficiaries; and

The regulation of cccupational pension schemes and approved retirement schemes within an effective legal framework.

A primary objective of this reform programme is to ensure that proper arrangements are made by, and for, persons during their working lives, so that they can receive an adequate pension upon retirement.

This includes the establishment of an appropriate framework for self-employed persons and persons in non-pensionable employment to make sufficient provision for their retirement.
The Pensions (Superannuation Funds and Retirement Schemes) Act, 2004 (which came into force on March 1, 2005) and accompanying regulations provide the legal framework within which this reform shall take place.

To date, however, our taxation laws have not been amended in order to ensure that our tax rules complement and support the objectives of the pension reform.

For More Perspectives on these Issues see The Jamaica Gleaner


T&T Facilitates Energy for Caricom

Government Information Service, Port of Spain, April 25, 2006. Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) has facilitated the Petro Caribe arrangement between Venezuela and other Caricom countries for them to enjoy the benefits of favourable payment terms for petroleum products from Venezuela, according to Prime Minister Patrick Manning.

Mr. Manning said T&T was voluntarily giving up Common External Tariff (CET) protection for the regional refining industry in order to facilitate Petro Caribe. He was speaking at the joint press conference with Jamaican Prime Minister, Portia Simpson –Miller, following bilateral talks between Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica at Whitehall on Tuesday April 25.
The bilateral discussion was the first item on the programme for the official visit of the Jamaican Prime Minister to Trinidad and Tobago. Mrs Simpson –Miller was welcomed by a military parade and gun salute on her arrival at Piarco International Airport on Monday, April 24.

She said Trinidad and Tobago agreed to a long term arrangement to supply gas to Jamaica which agreed to invest in an Aluminium Smelter project proposed for Trinidad. Gas supply options for Jamaica included compressed natural gas and liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the LNG Train 4 or LNG Train X plants. The supply of gas should begin in 2009 under “Most Favoured Nation” payment terms.

Other items on Mrs. Simpson- Miller’s itinerary include a children’s rally at the Jean Pierre Complex / Hasely Crawford Stadium, luncheon at the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers’ Association Headquarters and a State Banquet at President’s House.

Mrs. Simpson-Miller departs for Jamaica at 3 pm Wednesday, April 26, following a visit to the National Gas Company and a courtesy call on the Mayor of Port of Spain, Alderman Murchison Brown.

Copyright © 2006 Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago


Wednesday April 26, 2006

UNDP Governance Programme Supports Democratic Dialogue in the St Kitts and Nevis

Learn more about Democratic Dialogue, a cutting-edge programme supported by UNDP, by accessing

An orientation and information session to invite participation in the Democratic Dialogue Programme in St. Kitts and Nevis will be held on Tuesday, April 25th at 7:30 p.m. in the Conference Room at the University of the West Indies, The Gardens, Basseterre; and Thursday April 27th at 7:30 p.m. at the Nevis Credit Union Building, Charlestown. Please respond by email to, or if you have any questions or you wish to attend. Telephone contact 1-246-467-6128, 467-6009 in Barbados or 465-2190 in St. Kitts & Nevis.

Over the past 10 years, the Regional Bureau of Latin America and the Caribbean (RBLAC) of the United Nations Development Programme has introduced democratic dialogue processes to support development programming in Latin America and the Caribbean. This cross-institutional programme provides a platform to address complex societal problems and challenges that cannot be addressed  adequately, successfully, sustainably, legitimately or peacefully - by any single institution.

With assistance from UNDP Barbados, this Programme is being introduced to St. Kitts and Nevis. This year, UNDP will support a series of consultative workshops bringing together the nations leaders from the public and private sectors. A wide cross-section of stakeholders in St. Kitts and Nevis, a Caribbean Small Island Developing State, will have the opportunity to:
Ø Discuss critical development issues that result from globalization.
Ø Explore and examine fundamental development issues and their root-causes.
Ø Review issues of conflict and build capacity for dialogue that highlights leverage points for change.

Democratic dialogue is inclusive: people from different sectors, classes, hierarchies, parties, religions, generations, gender and cultures who normally work separately or even in opposition to one another come together to engage in dialogue processes and recommend solutions.

Democratic dialogue opens safe spaces for people to talk, listen to one another, build trust and transform relationships. The democratic dialogue process provides safe spaces for people to talk, listen to one another, build trust and transform relationships. Such conversations allow people to reach consensus and agreements by enabling them to build a shared understanding of problems, visualize their role and what must be done to address critical issues.

Finally, democratic dialogue is connected to action, as the participants emerge from the process with a shared sense of purpose, commitment to a common future, and agreed actionable points to bring the desired future into being.

Learn more about Democratic Dialogue, a cutting-edge programme supported by UNDP, by accessing

© 2003 Pam Democrat. All rights Reserved


Volume No. 1 Issue No. 80 - Monday April 24, 2006

First Ecopsychology Workshop Conducted in Dominica

Terri Henry

Recently, Dominica’s first Ecopsychology workshop was successfully conducted by local Dominican Terri Henry in Castle Bruce on the forested site of the forthcoming ‘Richmond Bay Ecolodge’ project. The one-of-a-kind workshop was commissioned by EDSA, the largest ecotourism planning and ecolodge design firm in the world and was attended by Hitesh Mehta Project Manager and the worlds leading authority in Ecolodge design and planning. Also participating were other EDSA employees, a local architect, project clients and investors.

This unique workshop was specifically created to help the planners, designers and project investors increase their appreciation of the forest ecosystem and develop a connectedness with the land that in turn would bring a greater sensitivity to their planning.

Throughout the two and half hour workshop participants were guided through a series of activities to enhance their sensory awareness and perception. This enabled them to learn from the ingenuity of natures design and work in harmony with the natural area when designing and implementing the project.

Group sharing and short written assignments bought forth clarity of communication and an open expression of thoughts and feelings which resulted in further unity as a collective working group with a common vision. All participants commented favourably on the outcomes of the workshop and felt that it made a significant contribution to both the project and their personal lives. Ecolodge guru, Hitesh Mehta enthusiastically concluded that “The workshop was professionally run and Terri is an awesome facilitator.

I have been enlightened and will definitely use her wisdom and expertise in our future tourism projects”. Terri Henry has been researching and practicing natural living and healing therapies for the past 16 years and has been studying Ecopsychology since 2004. She is currently seeking a scholarship to further her studies in this area with a Masters Degree. Director of the Environmental Co-ordinating Unit Mr Lloyd Pascal has supported this endeavour stating that ”Dominica stands to benefit tremendously by having Ms. Henry serve in this field.”

Ecopsychology is a field that is developing in recognition that human health, identity and sanity are intimately linked to the health of the earth and must include sustainable and mutually enhancing relationships between humans and the non-human world. Ecopsychology places human psychology in an ecological context and is aimed at healing the divisions between mind and nature, humans and earth.

The central concern of Ecopsychology is the physical, psychological and spiritual health of both human and nonhuman species and an understanding of the psychological processes that either bond us to the natural world or alienate us from it. Whilst Ecopsychology is relatively new as a formalised discipline many of its theories and practices are rooted within ancient and indigenous wisdom sources such as the aboriginal populations of both Australia and the Americas.

At this critical juncture in Dominica’s development Ms Henry feels it is imperative that we embrace the techniques of applied Ecopsychology to foster an ‘ecological consciousness’ which would inform our choices from everyday actions to policy decisions.

She states that “even as Dominica is becoming increasingly well-known and marketed as the ‘Nature Island of the Caribbean’ and has an economy largely based on the abundance of natural resources, especially agriculture and ecotourism, environmental degradation continues to be a problem that both affects and is caused by all sectors of society.

The solution to this pervading problem is found in the perspective of deep-ecology. When we are able to fully appreciate nature, not just as a profit-generating or survival resource but as intrinsically valuable in and of itself the desire to preserve and regenerate our environment is more than just self-preservation but a demonstration of the highest self–respect as the self expands to encompass all life.”

She also adds that “This transformation demands nothing less than a complete paradigm shift which shatters the illusion of human’s separation from nature and instils us with a complete awe and reverence for life.” The practices of Applied Ecopsychology are relevant for all sectors of society. Indeed all workshop participants agreed that significant positive change would occur if a large segment of the population became involved in the ‘Reconnect to Nature’ process.

For further information or to make a booking for the “Reconnecting to Nature” workshop please contact Terri Henry on 235 6256, email or visit the website

© Copyright 2002 TheDominican.Net


Wednesday,April 26, 2006 - Philipsburg, Sint Maarten, N.A.

Minimum wage increase without flexibilisation of labour laws

PHILIPSBURG--The St. Maarten Executive Council hopes to persuade the Central Government to approve an increase in the minimum wage in St. Maarten to NAf. 7.79 without making the dismissal law more flexible.

Labour Affairs Commissioner Louie Laveist plans to discuss the matter with Minister of Economic and Labour Affairs Burney Elhage in Bonaire today and while he doesn’t expect the minister to say yes to the increase, he hopes to have “fruitful discussions” and present the St. Maarten position to the Central Government.

The Executive Council’s decision was taken because talks have broken down between social partners on the flexibilisation of the dismissal laws as agreed on in the Memorandum of Understanding. “Despite several meetings and attempts to persuade social partners, we were unable to come to a consensus. The discussions failed,” said Laveist.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed on Friday, February 17, when unions, government and employers organisations agreed to work out mutually acceptable terms and conditions for the implementation of the “flexibilisation” of the labour laws and for the eradication of abuse of short-term (six-month) labour contracts. A workgroup had to decide to what extent the liberalisation of the labour market would take place in St. Maarten.

But Laveist’s proposal was ratified by the Executive Council yesterday in which it is advised not to introduce the labour laws flexibilisation and to proceed with the minimum wage increase to NAf. 7.79 per hour according to present labour laws. “Consensus by all partners is good, but not mandatory. Government has demonstrated good faith but the negotiations have failed,” he said.

A letter will also be sent to all stakeholders involved in the discussions informing them that government understands there is no longer an agreement on the MOU and consequently a reduction of the surtax will be not introduced. Furthermore, the letter states that in addition the Executive Council will also not implement the flexibilisation of the dismissal law.

The Executive Council strongly recommends that the private sector present a proposal to government via the labour summit joint committee to prevent possible exploitation of a flexibilised dismissal law. “If they present a viable solution that social partners can live with, government can reconsider its position and finalise the MOU,” Louie said.

Once again Laveist called upon the business community of St. Maarten to increase employees’ pay. “I make a plea not to contribute to any further to increase of poverty, crime and social ills, no further contribution to substandard living,” he said, stating that after 13 years it was obvious that a minimum wage worker was entitled to a raise.

Copyright ©2006 The Daily Herald St. Maarten


Brazil to provide AIDS drugs for eastern Caribbean

Wednesday, April 26th 2006

The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) will benefit from a supply of anti-retroviral drugs provided by Brazil, over the next five years, a Caricom Secretariat press release said.

Public Relations Officer at the Caricom Secretariat, Calvin Brown, told Stabroek News yesterday that the prices for the drugs were still to be set. But he said they would be lower than the current market prices.

Brown said the anti-retrovirals were being provided under a special arrangement and being funded by the Brazil government.

In Guyana, the New Guyana Pharmaceutical Corporation supplies HIV medication for the local health system. It had been hoping to be able to export HIV drugs to Caricom countries.
According to the press release, Prime Minister Denzil Douglas, Caricom lead Prime Minister with responsibility for Human Resources, Health and HIV/AIDS will sign a Letter of Intent with Brazil's Third Secretary of the Foreign Ministry, Gabriela Resendes tomorrow for the supply of the anti-retroviral drugs.

The signing of the Letter of Intent follows a high-level PANCAP mission to Brazil in April 2005, which was led by Prime Minister Douglas. The press release said that among the issues earmarked for discussion at the upcoming meeting of the Caricom Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD) tomorrow and Friday in St Kitts and Nevis, are domestic regulations governing the free movement of health professionals in the region and the migration of nurses. The state of mental health in the region, the community's progress in reducing the demand for drugs and the setting up of affordable drop-in centres for drug addicts and the homeless are also expected to engage the meeting.

Regional health and social security officials are also gearing to focus on a plan of action aimed at integrating the region's approach to preventing and controlling chronic diseases. This is in addition to examining the economic impact of diseases such as diabetes and hypertension in the Caribbean and making arrangements for a regional Health Insurance scheme.

The release said COHSOD would receive an update on the status of implementation and developments in the regional strategic response to HIV/AIDS.

The council will also receive several reports including one from the meeting of Chief Medical Officers yesterday, a status report on Health and Cricket World Cup (CWC) 2007, and proposals for establishing the Caribbean Health Initiative to improve health care delivery in the region.
Newly appointed Minister of Health and Social Security of the Bahamas, Senator Bernard Nottage will chair the meeting.

Outgoing Chair of COHSOD, St Kitts and Nevis Minister of Health Rupert Herbert, and Director of the Pan American Health Organisation, Dr Mirta Roses are to deliver remarks at the meeting.

© Stabroek News


26th April
Caribbean Bird Flu Watch
By Godfrey Eneas
Urge CaribVET to prepare and circulate surveillance protocols by May 31, 2006.

Support the conduct of the sub-regional simulation exercise in June 2006, and at least one national simulation exercise in each country, taking into consideration the effectiveness of the entire cycle of sample collection, transport (e.g. airline carriers), diagnostic testing and reporting by end 2006.

Develop common performance indicators to evaluate and strengthen active and passive surveillance systems on disease status (sample size, communication network, database appropriateness and analysis, sentinel sites).

Provide assistance to countries on matters related to procurement of field kits, sample collection and protective gears.

Provide assistance to strengthen legislation and institutional infrastructure.

More of this article: The Bahama Journal

Tuesday, April 25, 2006 

Developing a supplier’s Code of Conduct: Hewlett-Packard

Hewlett-Packard, headquartered in Palo Alto, California, is a technology solutions provider to consumers, businesses, and institutions. It operates in 178 countries and employs approximately 160,000 people across the globe.

This case study describes how a technology company developed a Human Rights and Labor Policy within their Global Citizenship strategy, and is engaged in the complex and unclearly defined issues of human rights within their business. The case also describes ongoing development and challenges, and examines how the company has been implementing the United Nations Global Compact, specifically the principles that deal with human rights.

The company contractually obliges its top 40 suppliers to commit to HP's supply chain code of conduct. This includes 100 sites and accounts for 80% of HP’s spent dollars. HP is in the process of increasing the number of suppliers it requires making this commitment and strengthening the means by which it ensures compliance with the obligation.

Eventually, this code of conduct will be explicit in all new supplier contracts, so compliance will be a necessity to do business.

In developing its supply chain code of conduct, HP did its own extensive benchmarking and research, and worked with Business for Social Responsibility, a think tank and consultancy around CSR based in San Francisco, California. The Director of Supply Chain Services stated that HP scoured the landscape of supplier codes of conduct, looked at the various international standards, even looked at the UN Global Compact- but none were satisfactory or entirely relevant to HP. So it developed its own code.

The "HP Supplier Code of Conduct" professes to focus on compliance with local laws in the areas of environment, worker health and safety, and labor and employment practices, and in intended to work in conjunction with management systems to measure, improve and communicate progress in these areas. The treatment of labor issues is fairly comprehensive and, despite the use of headings that refer to compliance with local laws, contains standards, for example, in relation to non-discrimination and prison labor, which may or may not be covered by local legislation.

The focus on these issues is positive and its effectiveness will be greatly enhanced by the planned improvements in compliance monitoring. To meet HP's human rights obligations, the supplier code of conduct should be expanded to cover human rights matters beyond labor issues, matters such as:

° Performance and monitoring of security guards by suppliers;
° The impact on the local community of supplier operations;
° The penalization of suppliers for corrupt or human rights-abusive regimes.

Currently, HP monitors its supply chain using a self-assessment questionnaire completed by HP's top 40 suppliers. HP then works collaboratively with suppliers to achieve the required standards in any area that is identified as falling below HP requirements. HP's Director of Supply Chain Services reports that HP's suppliers take this process very seriously given the importance to them of their relationship and business with HP. HP is moving to expand and strengthen their supply chain monitoring.

They are extending self-assessment beyond the top 40 suppliers to the suppliers HP regards as "high risk".

At the same time it is strengthening the monitoring of the top 40 suppliers by utilizing HP's own procurement auditing capacity to conduct site assessments of supplier performance, moving beyond the self-assessment model. In time, this model will also be extended to the high-risk suppliers. Finally, HP is currently researching appropriate entities to conduct third-party assessment of supplier performance. Selective third party assessment will be the final stage in the evolution of supply chain monitoring at HP.

This case study is part of Raising the Bar: Creating Value with the United Nations Global Compact. Designed to help companies understand the Global Compact framework and its principles, Raising the Bar is the only publication that provides a catalog of available tools and implementation guidelines that companies can use to implement the Compact’s principles.

Further information

° Hewlett-Packard
° United Nations Global Compact

© 1997-2006 World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). All rights reserved.

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