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February 15th 2017

THOUSANDS WITNESS THE OPENING OF THE AIA

Thousands of Vincentians turned out yesterday to witness the  historic opening of the Argyle International Airport, the largest development project undertaken here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.   The project was constructed at a cost of over EC$700M. It is built to facilitate 1.5 million passengers per year.

A ceremony to mark the important event was held yesterday February 14th and featured remarks from several dignitaries. Prime Minister Dr. Hon Ralph Gonsalves  in his address described the project as being a great cause for the country.  Dr. Gonsalves affirmed that his government never faltered amidst the many challenges that presented themselves.

Minister of Economic Planning Hon Camillo Gonsalves while speaking at the event said that the construction and opening of the Argyle International airport was an impossible feat turned into reality.   Minister of Agriculture Hon Saboto Ceaser said that the airport is a tribute to the nation’s farmers who have waited for some time now for such a gateway.

The Agriculture minister said that the airport is now opened for business and urged that the relevant stakeholders here also ready themselves for the opportunities that lie ahead.   Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves unveiled a plaque, during the Military Parade and Flag Raising Ceremony which was held on Monday 13th February  ahead of the official opening of the Argyle International Airport yesterday.

 

AIA COMMENDED BY CHAIRMAN OF CARICOM AND PRESIDENT OF GUYANA DAVID GRANGER

The Argyle International airport which was officially opened here yesterday was commended by Chairman of CARICOM and President of Guyana, David Granger.

Speaking at the opening on Tuesday, Granger said the international airport is expected to enhance the Vincentian brand and add significantly to Vincentian infrastructure stock and make travel to and from this country easier, cheaper and faster.   Granger also congratulated Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves on the realization of his dream of constructing the International Airport.

 

POLICE NEWS

An investigation has been launched into the death of Randy Lawrence, a 39-year-old employee, of Bank of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.   Lawrence, who was from Colonarie, received several gunshot wounds about his body on Tuesday, February 14th, 2017, at Arnos Vale about 7:00a.m. He was rushed to the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital where he died.

Junior Jarvis, a 44-year-old marketer, is assisting the police with the investigations, which is recorded as the first homicide of the year.   A post mortem examination will be carried out on the body of the deceased soon.

Meanwhile, Police here are investigating an armed robbery, which took place at Rillan Hill, approximately 7:45 p.m. on Tuesday, February 14, 2017.   The Browne family of Rillan Hill was at their home when three males entered their home and demanded that they hand over their cellular phones, tablet and jewellery. The men then left in a car owned by the Brownes.

The Police are appealing to members of the public with information that can assist with the investigations to contact the Vermont Police Station at 458-7429.

 

UNDP AND J-CCCP COMMENCE THREE PILOT PROJECTS IN SVG

Three pilot projects totaling USD$300,000 will commence with the aim of transferring and adopting low emission and climate resilient technologies to the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the local chapter of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) under the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Japan-Caribbean Climate Change Partnership (J-CCCP) Project.    Six additional projects are in the pipeline for St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

These projects will focus on construction of water harvesting and irrigation systems, converting waste into energy and building capacities for sustainable agriculture among women, men, boys and girls. Following the official launch of the pilot projects, members of the media are invited to tour project sites.   The Launch of pilot projects and site visits will take place on Wednesday, 22 February 2017; 9:00 a.m  at the NIS Training Room.

 

NATIONAL HEROES AND HERITAGE MONTH ACTIVITIES AND CELEBRATION  EXPECTED TO BE GREATER THIS YEAR

Persons can this year expect a greater celebration and activities to mark National Heroes and Heritage Month.   According to local reports Anthony Theobalds, Chief Cultural Officer said that they are continuing to work assiduously to put the Calendar of activities in place and everything is progressing well thus far.

He said they are also seeking to include more of the nation’s youths in this year’s National Heroes and Heritage Month celebrations and the ministry is continuing to work with the nation’s children through the Primary Schools Performing Arts Festival.   He said that during the month of March there will also be two community Festivals taking place along with the National Heroes Day Festival on March 14th.

Mr. Theobalds also mentioned that a major Carnival program is also expected to be held during the month of March and they are looking forward to working closer with the Heritage clubs throughout the country.

 

CARIBBEAN NEWS

CARICOM LEADERS MEET IN GUYANA


Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders begin their two-day inter-sessional summit in Guyana on Thursday with crime and security, economic development and international relations high on their agenda.   CARICOM Secretary General Irwin LaRocque, speaking ahead of the summit, said that crime continues to pose a threat to the 15-member regional grouping and is no longer just a national issue.   “It’s a regional one and hence it demands a regional solution,” LaRocque said, noting that trans-border crime is “something one needs to address,” given the need to reduce the “level of criminality” within the Caribbean.

But he noted that the regional leaders will not be in a position to sign onto the arrest warrant treaty and recovery of assets treaty that would have resulted in increased cooperation among member states and which are part of the crime and security strategy adopted by leaders at their 24th inter-sessional held in Haiti three years ago.   “At this point and time we are not yet in a position to say that we are going to adopt this instrument at the sitting…our hope was to have done that but I have to admit that some of the legal instruments require very careful examination.  “Both of those instruments are being renegotiated simultaneously and both are in an advance stage of deliberations,” LaRocque added.

Guyana is expected to present the draft CARICOM Arrest Warrant Treaty for ratification at the summit.   “The adoption of this treaty will simplify the procedures by which fugitives from justice are returned to participating member states to face criminal prosecution or serve judicial sentences,” said Minister of State, Joseph Harmon.   The regional leaders will seek to further develop the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) initiative that allows for the free movement of goods, skills, services and labour across the region.

LaRocque pointed to significant progress that had been made in the CARICOM Single Market (CSM), especially its legal and administrative framework, but acknowledged that more, however, needed to be done with respect to the Single Economy.   LaRocque said the leaders at their two-day summit will also discuss the region’s productive sectors with much emphasis being placed on the tourism industry, a major contributor to the region’s gross domestic product (GDP).

Consultations have been held with the Barbados-based Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) and the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) which identified marketing, human resource development and strengthening linkages with other sectors including transportation and creative industries as areas to enhance the regional tourism product.

The regional leaders will also discuss the Single Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Space with LaRocque describing the ICT as a sector in its own right as well as an enabler of development.   He said a roadmap to this end will be before the CARICOM leaders and issues that it will cover include regionally harmonised ICT policies, legislation, technical standards, networks and services, roaming rates, spectrum ad broadband matters and regional best practices.

 

 T& T GOVERNMENT HINTS AT INTRODUCING LEGISLATION TO CURB ACTIVITIES OF SOCIAL MEDIA USERS

The Trinidad and Tobago government has hinted at introducing legislation to curb the activities of social media users who post gory and irresponsible videos, comments and photographs to create sensation and instil fear and panic. Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi says he is taking to Cabinet on Thursday legislation to amend the Cybercrime Bill to deal with reckless users who he said are now out of control in sharing unverified information.


  Al-Rawi speaking at the Association of Real Estate Agents’ meeting on Tuesday, said the bill is intended to stop the abusers of social media who “plaster things” on Facebook without verification.  He told the audience that the Cybercrime Bill, which the LRC (Legislative Review Committee), has completed would be going to Cabinet this Thursday.   “Our society runs the risk of being deemed to be very much, in lost measure…out of control,” he said, citing “the irresponsibility that is exercised without any regard for the consequence of families…or to children or persons who are victims or to just create panic and fear.”

Al-Rawi’s plan comes in the wake of complaints by acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams, that such posts, in the face of a spiralling murder rate, was creating a logistical headache for the police, who often have to go out to check the veracity of such postings.   Al-Rawi described some of the content put on social media as “astounding.   “So we [are] focused on the Cybercrime Bill and we have made some very important changes in terms of the previous version that was in circulation. I think the country is going to be very pleased with the product,” he said.   Al- Rawi also noted that there have been extensive consultations with the Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago, the Trinidad and Tobago Publishers and Broadcasters Association (TTPBA) and other entities on the matter.  “We are ready to rock and roll. This is a step in the right direction to control this kind of behaviour,” he said, adding “suffice to say, it is a very robust piece of law on which there has been a significant amount of consultation and I believe it is in the right zone of operations.

Under Clause 19 of the Cybercrime Bill, which was first introduced to Parliament in 2014, anyone who seeks to create the offence of violating a person’s privacy by capturing and sharing pictures or videos of a person’s private area without their consent, commits an offence which carries a fine of TT$100,000 (One TT dollar =US$0.16 cents) and two years imprisonment on summary conviction or a fine of TT$500,000 and three years’ imprisonment on conviction on indictment.

Clause 20 seeks to criminalise the act of sending multiple electronic mail messages that are unsolicited and which causes harm to a person or damage to a computer.   This offence would carry a fine of TT$300,000 and three years imprisonment on summary conviction or a fine of TT$500,000 and five years imprisonment on conviction on indictment.



February 13 2017

AIA OFFICIAL OPENING TAKES PLACE TODAY

A Military Parade and Flag Raising Ceremony for the Official Opening of the Argyle International Airport (AIA) will take place today Monday, February 13, 2017.   The ceremony is scheduled to commence at 4:30pm and will feature an Inspection of Parade by Governor General, Sir Frederick Ballantyne, and raising of the Flag by Prime Minister Dr. the Hon. Ralph E Gonsalves.

The ceremony will hear addresses from Minister of National Mobilisation, and Area Representative for South Windward, Frederick Stephenson, and Sir Vincent Beache, Member of the Board of Directors, of the International Airport Development Company (IADC).    Addresses will also come from Prime Minister Gonsalves and Ambassador of the Republic of China (Taiwan) His Excellency Bau-Shan Ger.   There will be a Blessing of the Building by the Dean of the St. George’s Cathedral and Unveiling of a Plaque by the Prime Minister.

The Agency for Public Information (API) in collaboration with SVG TV and VC 3 will bring Live Television coverage of the event, while Tempo Cable Television Network will broadcast it to regional and international audiences. Star Radio will also bring liver coverage of this afternoon’s event.

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has indicated that the list of invitees to today’s ceremonial opening of the multi-million-dollar Argyle International Airport will include a number of overseas dignitaries inclusive presidents” and “a vice-presidents”.


AIA NOW A REALITY

Minister of Transport and Works Hon Senator Julian Francis has reiterated that the Argyle International airport is now a reality and no longer a dream.   Contributing to last week’s debate on the 2017 Budget Minster Francis said that the airport will serve for generations to come despite what he described as the supreme attack from the opposition.

Francis denounced the claim that the airport project will sink this country financially instead Francis explained that the airport will allow us to fly.   Minister Francis also announced that the government of t Vincent and the Grenadines has received 100 million US dollars as a grant from the Kuwaiti Fund to conduct assessments of damage to roads here because of recent disasters.

 
SVG/CUBA FRIENDSHIP SOCIETY CONGRATULATES THE GOVERNMENT OF SVG ON THE OPENING OF THE AIA


The St Vincent and the Grenadines/Cuba Friendship Society has offered its warmest congratulations to the Government and people of St Vincent and the Grenadines on the completion of the Argyle International Airport and its official opening scheduled for February 14, 2017.

It says in a release that the construction of the airport is the realisation of a long-held dream of all Vincentians, disadvantaged by such a limitation on air access to the wider world. It further adds that is a significant achievement for such a small country, particularly in the context of a global economic climate during the time that the airport was built. It is a tribute to foresight and dogged determination to succeed of which we should all be proud.

According to Mr. Renwick Rose who wrote on behalf of the organisation at the same time, it would be remiss of them if they did not acknowledge the tremendous contribution of the international community under the umbrella of what is referred to as the “coalition of the willing”. Rose noted that in this they are especially thankful to the governments and people of those countries which contributed, the Caribbean basin countries of Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela and Cuba, among others.

Rose pointed out that as an organization founded on solidarity with Cuba, they wish to single out the selfless contribution of the Cuban government and people, despite their limitations as a result of the economic embargo, still rigidly enforced. The contribution of Cuban technical personnel and the exemplary work of the Cuban workers was critical to the construction of the airport and will forever be appreciated by all Vincentians who value genuine friendship and solidarity. The organisation also thanked the Government and people of Cuba for their assistance and urge all Vincentians to reciprocate in extending eternal friendship and solidarity to them.

 

SAKS PROJECT TO HOST ACTIVITIES TODAY

The Small Acts of Kindness (SAK) Project will be hosting a week of activities this month in celebration of SAK week.  The Toronto based non-profit organization was founded upon the belief in, and dedication to providing resources and tools that encourage acts of kindness.   The week’s events commenced on Sunday February 12th with a Church Service at the Kingstown Evangelical Church.

The activities will run until Saturday February 18th, and will also include a visit to the Children’s Ward at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital; distribution of food hampers; a visit to the Liberty Lodge Boys’ Home and Fundraising Drives.

The week’s celebration will be held under the theme: “Kindness Inspires Kindness” and will focus on celebrating and fostering a spirit of empathy and compassion towards those less fortunate in society.  Schools, businesses and the general public are being asked to support SAK Day by performing their own small acts of kindness during the week or joining the SAK Project to support one of the planned activities.

 

 CARIBBEAN/AMERICAN LEADERS CALLS FOR STRONG STANCE AGAINST THE DONALD TRUMP ADMINISTRATION

Caribbean/American and other elected officials and leaders in New York are calling for a very strong stance against the Donald Trump administration’s immigration policy in the United States.

Speaking at an immigration forum, New York City Council member Jumanne D Williams, the son of Grenadian immigrants, New York State Assembly member Rodneyse Bichette, the daughter of Haitian immigrants, Haitian District Leader Josue Pierre, and New York Senator Kevin S Parker, said the goal was to energise the Caribbean community to “take action, organise and learn how to survive during the next four years” of the Trump administration.

Bichotte, who represents the 42nd Assembly District in Brooklyn, said the immigration forum was “very much needed, in particular, for the black immigrants” in her district, “who are never at the forefront in regard to the immigration issue.”   “Getting accurate information to people in the community is so critical, especially now, because things have been moving so quickly,” she said.

Last Thursday, a United States federal appeals panel unanimously rejected Trump’s bid to reinstate his ban on travel into the US from seven Muslim countries, stating that the government showed that “no evidence” that anyone from the seven nations — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — had committed terrorist acts in the United States.   The ruling also rejected Trump’s claim that courts are powerless to review a president’s national security assessments, according to the New York Times.

The appeals court, however, acknowledged that Trump was owed deference on his immigration and national security policies, the Times said.

But the panel said Trump was claiming something more and that “national security concerns are unreviewable, even if those actions potentially contravene constitutional rights and protections.”   Shortly after the ruling, Trump angrily vowed to fight it.   Caribbean American Congresswoman Yvette D Clarke had condemned Trump’s travel ban, warning that it would eventually affect the Caribbean.