By Sir Ronald SandersHugo Chavez, the populist leader of Venezuela, could not turn-up on January 10 for his swearing-in ceremony as President for a fourth consecutive term. Quite naturally, the doubt that this has created over the governance of Venezuela has thrown the country into turmoil. It has also caused alarm among Caribbean governments that have become dependent on discounted oil and concessionary financing under the Venezuelan-financed Petro-Caribe programme. Continue reading
By Sir Ronald SandersEarnings and employment generated by the rum industry in 14 CARICOM countries and the Dominican Republic (collectively CARIFORUM) are under siege and the entire industry could be severely diminished in a few years unless the governments of these countries take swift action.
In previous commentaries, I have drawn attention to the devastating effect on CARIFORUM countries if the US Virgin Islands (USVI) and Puerto Rico (PR) are allowed to continue current arrangements in which the governments of those two US possessions unfairly use a tax rebate from the US Federal Government to provide huge benefits to companies to produce and market rum for the US market. Now a comprehensive report commissioned by the Commonwealth Secretariat, highlights a major threat to exports of CARIFORUM rum to the 27-nation European Union (EU). Continue reading
By Sir Ronald SandersSmall states in the Caribbean would do well to follow the pattern of Britain and Canada in pooling and sharing diplomatic missions abroad. Caribbean countries spend millions of dollars every year on individual diplomatic missions when shared missions would be far more cost effective.
On September 24, the foreign ministers of Britain and Canada, William Hague and John Baird, announced in Ottawa that their two governments have signed an agreement under which they would share facilities and consular services in several countries. Continue reading
By Sir Ronald SandersThe importance of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries acting jointly to address their development needs has become acute.
With high levels of debt to GDP ratios, widening budget deficits, deteriorating terms of trade, dwindling aid flows, and shocks to their economies by a decline in tourism earnings and a grave contraction of the financial services sector, the majority of CARICOM countries are reeling. Guyana and Suriname are the notable exceptions having recorded steady economic growth in recent years, largely due to export earnings from their mineral resources especially gold. Continue reading
By Sir Ronald SandersExcept Haiti, all the Caribbean countries that are members of the 79-member African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group are in danger of losing the level of aid they receive from the European Union (EU) under a differentiated approach being considered by the European Commission. The differentiated approach would make the status of Caribbean states as Middle Income Countries the basis for reducing aid to them. Continue reading