Dominica

ECCU Citizens Invited to Share Their Financial Success Stories

BRADES, Montserrat – If you have had significant financial success and reside within the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) then this competition is for you. October is Financial Information Month and the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) has launched its Dreams to Reality Contest.

According to a statement from the ECCB, eligible candidates must be people from humble beginnings, who through hard work and wise money management practices, were able to realise their dreams of owning a home, starting and operating a successful business, educating themselves or their children, or any other financial venture they undertook to improve their living conditions.

“The winner of the Financial Information Month Dreams to Reality Contest will receive a cash prize of EC$2,000; while second and third place winners will receive EC$1,500 and EC$1,000 respectively.

“Stories must be 300 to 500 words and must be emailed to the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank Agency Office at: eccbmni@candw.ms. The deadline for submitting entries is 29 October, 2010,” says the bank release.

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$1 Million for Dominica’s Banana Farmers

Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit (left) hands over the $1million cheque, as part of a first portion of funds to Chairman of the AID Bank, Ambrose Sylvester for the revitalization of the banana sector.

ROSEAU, DOMINICA – The Government of Dominica is making EC$1M available in the first instance to banana farmers so as to boost production.

The new loan and grant facility available at the Dominica Agricultural Industrial and Development Bank (DAIDB) was announced at the Financial Centre on Wednesday with the Ministry of Agriculture having the funds accessible as part of the Banana Recovery, Sustainability and Diversification Plan’s Phase 1.

Agriculture Minister, Matthew Walter explained, “The Ministry is considering a programme which should target 48 percent, that is, the top 161 farmers, of the active farmers producing about five tonnes per acre per year and increasing their acreage from 507 acres to 805 acres.”

The programme will include rehabilitation, replanting and expansion of the crop based on farmer needs assessment at a time when the sector is plagued with underproduction and a decreasing farmer population. The average acreage of the top 161 farmers is approximately 4.5 to 5 acres. There are fewer than 350 banana farmers on the island.

As such $2,918 will be granted for two acres for rehabilitation; $8, 911 for two acres the purpose replanting and $4,455.50 for one acre to be used for expansion.

The total investment for the top producing 161 farms amounts to $2,621,805.50.

According to the minister, the banana sector is currently under producing with the average weekly production standing at approximately 8, 300 boxes.

The required volumes for the United Kingdom (U.K.) market includes 13, 000 boxes and 5, 000 boxes for the regional market.

“In essence, in the first year we expect to rehabilitate 322 acres at $469,798, replanting amounts to $1,434,671 and expansion of 161 acres amounts to $717,335.50. In aggregate, this year, the first year, we expect to invest in the banana sub sector $2.6 million. This is the first phase of the plan and we will ensure that the funds are being put to good use so that the desired out come is attained”, Walter noted.

The Ministry will deploy monitoring officers to ensure that the funds are well channeled and that the required performance is maintained. He assured farmers that as soon as desired production levels are met, the government will make more funds available.

Technical officers in the Ministry of Agriculture are currently developing a National Adaptation Strategy to deal with the new trade rules governing the banana trade with Europe.

“We are clear that farmers are in need of assistance, and that government is responding and addressing some of such needs. [The facility] will target banana producers who have remained in the industry and who will best utilize this form of support to increase production and to meet the quality demand by the Fairtrade and regional markets.”

Prime Minster and Finance Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit acknowledged agriculture as being critical to the country’s economic prosperity and recognized the investment as vital while resources are scarce.

Skerrit pointed out, “This is a fifty-fifty arrangement which means that if a farmer has $60,000 to invest in his banana farm, he will get $30,000 as a loan and $30, 000 as a grant. This is a significant investment because the government in itself is putting in direct grant funds into the banana industry.”

However, Skerrit expressed his government’s hope that the farmers will now feel incentives the banana farmers to go out and produce.

He asserted, “What we hope this program will achieve, is increased production. Farmers cannot do business as usual, we cannot have a one acre plot and put in one ton of bananas or two tons, we have to ensure that farmers move to ten tons of bananas per acre if we are to survive the very difficult banana market that we have in Europe.”

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Dominica’s future is with the OECS, says Ambassador Maynard

by Nester Phillip

Ambassador Charles Maynard, Dominica

ROSEAU, Dominica – Dominica has little choice but to be a part of the sub-regional integration movement, the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) economic union, as the world is now being characterised by blocs, a diplomat thinks.

Dominica’s ambassador to the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), his Excellency Charles Maynard, believes that the island has already seen many benefits as a party to sub-regional integration.

Maynard is of the view that the OECS Economic Union will set the framework for strengthening the integration movement.

“The truth of the matter is, we really have no option. In the world, all countries, big countries are getting together, far less the smaller countries. The recent experience we have had with the global [crisis], it has fortified, in a lot of the countries, their zeal to do things together”, he declared.

The ambassador noted that with the June 18, 2010 signing of the Revised Treaty of Basseterre establishing the OECS Economic Union, governments only need to now ratify the treaty and enact it as law in their respective Parliaments.

The new treaty will allow the sub-regional grouping to function with stronger powers through various organs, including the OECS Authority and member states will give up some sovereignty to allow for its function.

The new supranational entity will maintain the OECS Authority, consisting of Heads of Government as the supreme policy making organ of the Organization and “through this new treaty, they have been given powers to make laws for all the countries, so you don’t have to go back to your country when something is done”, explained the man at the helm of the country’s Regional Integration Unit.

Maynard asserted, “Each Parliament has authority to make laws for the good government of the country, and they also have authority to delegate, that is to give other publics that authority. So, that authority will be delegated to the Heads in specific areas. So when it comes to making those decisions is that when they are made, they are made for all the countries”.

The specific areas where member states will delegate “exclusive legal competence” to the Authority include: a common market including a customs union, monetary policy, trade policy, maritime jurisdiction and maritime boundaries, civil aviation, common commercial policy, environmental policy and immigration policy.

An OECS Assembly consisting of elected representatives from member states will have persuasive power to interface with the Authority.

“In other words, measures that are going before the Authority for deliberation and decision will be put to the Assembly, there will be public discussion about it and then when it goes back [to the Authority], it should go back as a form of trying to persuade the authority”, he noted.

Maynard added that the new agreement entered into on behalf of at least 400,000 people was constituted after wide public consultations involving the private and public sectors, labour unions, schools, political parties among other public.

He pointed to institutions, some standing for over forty years, where regional cooperation is beneficial to the sub-region’s people including the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC), Eastern Caribbean Currency Authority (ECCA) later the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), the Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority (ECTEL).

Member states are now in the post signing period of the treaty and a June 2011 deadline is set for full integration as part of the OECS Economic Union.

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Caption: Dominica’s OECS Ambassador Charles Maynard believes that the OECS Economic Union is a step in the right direction towards cementing the ties that bind us together as a sub regional grouping.

France establishes diplomatic ties with OECS

CASTRIES, St. Lucia – France and the OECS have established relations at the Ambassadorial level. 

OECS Director General Dr. Len Ishmael accepted Letters of Credence from France’s first Ambassador to the OECS, His Excellency Michel Prom at a ceremony which took place on Tuesday June 8th  at the Headquarters of the OECS. While OECS Member States and France have enjoyed a rich history of cooperation and cordial relations in the past, today’s ceremony marks a new chapter in that relationship.

In accepting the Letters of Credence from the Ambassador of France the Director General noted that France has engaged the region in cooperation programmes in the past, facilitated by the very close relationship between OECS Member States and the region’s French Departments of the Americas (DFA’s), particularly Martinique and Guadeloupe. Previous areas of cooperation included: the promotion of joint ventures, trade and investment, health sector reform, the promotion of multi-destination tourism, infrastructure development, and more recently, areas such as mutual legal assistance and support for the rule of law. In this regard, the Director General conveyed the profound thanks of the Governments and people of the OECS for the tremendous benefits which had accrued, and expressed the intention to continue to build on, and intensify cooperation in these important spheres.

The Director General pointed to France’s global stature in economic, political and cultural terms, and noted that its decision to appoint an Ambassador to the OECS represented a major vote of confidence in the Organsation and its future.

For his part, the French Ambassador considered himself most honoured to have been appointed France’s first ambassador to the OECS. He assured the Director General that France was looking forward to pursuing new areas of cooperation with the OECS, and to a strengthening of the relationship between the two sides.

According to the Ambassador, France recognizes that the OECS has undergone a commendable and successful process of regional integration over the last thirty years. In that regard, France was of the view that the new OECS Treaty is a critical step to achieving the much desired deepening of the integration process. Based on its integration experience within Europe, France is of the view that cooperation and solidarity are vital if countries are to effectively address global challenges such as poverty reduction, climate change, and energy security among others. It was in that regard that the Ambassador saw great significance in the decision by his country to establish diplomatic relations with the OECS..

In closing, the Ambassador assured the OECS that in his new capacity, he will honour France’s aim to provide every support within its means, to the development aspirations of the OECS.

France has now become the sixth country to establish diplomatic relations with the OECS, and the fourth European Union member to do so.

St. Lucia, Dominica and Tortola added to WINAIR’s route

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten – Three new routes have been added by the regional airline WINAIR, which has been the main carrier into Montserrat since the opening of the new airport in 2005. Starting June 28th the airline will be offering flights into St. Lucia, Dominica and Tortola.

WINAIR’s Managing Director, Edwin Hodge said after extensive and significant talks, the airline was able to secure the new routes, noting it will help to boost the company’s operations.

“We are very excited to launch these new routes as it helps us to provide better and more enhanced services to the people of the region,” Hodge added. “The new flights will complement our existing service and provide our customers with more travel options when using WINAIR.”

WINAIR hopes the additional routes will be attractive to those travelling for business, diplomatic service, to visit family and friends, and the tourism industry.  Hodge, who once flew for the airline, said the company’s continued growth will be based on their experience and commitment to service. He added this new investment perfectly reflects that.

A Jetstream 32 aircraft has been acquired to service the new routes.

Vice President of Marketing, Claudio Buncamper said that the relevant stakeholders are happy. “Our primary aim is to not only offer our passengers excellent connections and service but we want to ensure they are safe and secure.” Buncamper pointed out that WINAIR continues to set standards in travel and there is much untapped potential in the region.

“I am of the firm view that with the addition of these three routes it promises to serve the unmet needs of discerning corporate and leisure flyers,” the VP of Marketing said.

Buncamper declared that WINAIR’s goal is to emerge as the market leader within the Caribbean and they are on course to do just that. WINAIR is presently loading its online flight schedule for the new destinations which will connect to all of WINAIR destinations. The airline is also hopeful that even more routes will be added in the coming months.

Information on the new routes and connections are available via www.fly-winair.com; and facebook.com/flywinair. Tickets are now on sale.

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