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CDB president: 2019 Doing Business ranking is not simply criticism

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by Linda Straker

  • Doing Business report advocates regulatory quality and efficiency
  • Implementing its recommendations will increase region’s attractiveness for growth and development

Grenada and other Caribbean countries have been told by Caribbean Development Bank President, Dr William Warren Smith, that the World Bank’s Doing Business report is a very important review for the region and implementing the recommendations will increase the region’s attractiveness for growth and development.

He told participants at the Ninth Caribbean Forum that they should not regard the analyses of the World Bank Doing Business report simply as criticisms of shortcomings but they should grasp the opportunity for targeted redress of those very things that hamper business competitiveness in the region.

“The World Bank’s Doing Business indicators give us an idea of some of the critical factors that impact business decisions, including starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity services, and trading across borders. The speed with which these can take place provides a gauge of our region’s efficiency vis-à-vis the “best in class,” he told more than 200 delegates attending the forum.

World Bank Doing Business report

The Doing Business report advocates for both regulatory quality and efficiency. It measures regulations across 190 economies in 12 business regulatory areas to assess the business environment in each economy.

The study looks at rules affecting business from inception through operation to wind-down: starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, getting credit, protecting minority investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts, and resolving insolvency.

A significant number of Caribbean countries received low ranking on the index which reviewed 190 countries. They include Suriname at 165; Grenada at 147; St Kitts and Nevis at 140, Guyana at 134, St Vincent and the Grenadines at 130; Barbados at 129, Trinidad and Tobago at 105, Dominica at 102 and St Lucia at 93.

“Let us pull out for priority action, those “low hanging fruits” that can bring significant benefit with minimal effort. I must admit that implementation is a grave concern for CDB itself. The growing “buckets” of undisbursed balances on our books keep me awake at nights,” he said.

Informing the participants that he is concerned about the increasing number of donor funds that are not accessed, Smith said that it is cold comfort that other development partners are facing a similar challenge.

“Bear in mind that none of us are delivering on our development mandate if the funds intended for these countries remain in our coffers. Our goal should be for the intended beneficiaries to be able to access these resources for high priority development projects as quickly as possible,” he told senior policymakers, public, private, and multilateral development partners.

In his address at the opening of the 2019 Caribbean Forum, Warren highlighted challenges with the implementation of projects and policies in the region. “In order to make the Caribbean a better place, it is necessary to tackle poor rates of implementation and weak implementation capacity, which are ongoing concerns for Caribbean public sector managers. Moving the needle on the solutions to our region’s perennial challenges requires a relentless commitment to implementation, starting with a cultural shift that encourages increased accountability,” said Smith.

“We often joke about Caribbean people always being late. But time is money, undermining our capacity to deliver goods and services in a timely manner, and undercutting our ability to compete based on low cost and high quality,” he said, explaining that lateness is only one manifestation of the implementation problem.

He disclosed that public sector investment programmes are underperforming, with implementation rates below 35% being reported by several countries. The low rate undermines private sector confidence and its willingness to invest. The implementation challenge also affects the work of CDB and is manifested in growing levels of undisbursed balances. Other development agencies face similar concerns.

CDB is addressing the implementation issue from several fronts, including supporting behavioural change in its borrowing member countries through institutionalised delivery mechanisms. Since 2016, CDB has also trained over 2,000 public officers in public policy analysis and project-cycle management. Smith announced that the bank will launch e-learning modules to reach an even larger number of public officials in the Caribbean.

The theme for the forum is “Regional Transformation for Inclusive and Sustainable Growth.” It is co-organised by the CDB, the Government of Barbados and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

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Caribbean & World

Grenada not in violation of Vienna Convention on trade and diplomacy

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by Linda Straker

  • Honorary Consuls or Trade Consuls do not have same level of immunity as ambassadors
  • Honorary Consuls conduct diplomacy free of cost to Government of Grenada
  • Grenada is not violating any section of the Vienna Convention on Trade and Diplomacy

Foreign Affairs Minister, Peter David, has explained that Grenada as a small developing state is not engaging in any international misconduct when it appoints citizens to be honorary consuls or trade consuls to represent the island in places where there are no embassies.

Explaining that it’s difficult for the country to operate embassies throughout the world, David in an interview on Friday, said that there are two kinds of diplomat, and those who are appointed as Honorary Consul or Trade Consul do not have the same level of immunity as ambassadors.

“We will appoint someone as Honorary Consul where it does not cost anything to the Government of Grenada and what they do is conduct diplomacy free of cost to us, but in order to conduct that diplomacy they must have a diplomatic passport and some diplomatic position, but that does not guarantee immunity,” David said, pointing out that the Honorary Consul does not get immunity.

“So the issuance of diplomatic passports to honorary consuls, to trade consuls, to all of these persons has nothing to do with the Citizenship By Investment programme (CBI) and it has nothing to do with the government’s sale of anything. It is a matter of them conducting our diplomacy in a way that allows us access to as many countries in the world as possible.” The minister pointed out that a person who gained citizenship through the CBI can be considered for a diplomatic post. “That appointment is not on the base of the CBI programme but on the fact that the person is a citizen of this country and is willing to represent us,” he said, explaining that all persons who become a citizen through the various means available, can represent the country following the necessary due diligence.

A person can gain citizenship through the naturalisation process of up to second and third generations in accordance with the Immigration Act, or purchase it through the CBI programme. The CBI programme provides for an approved applicant to invest in real estate in a country or make the required contribution to the National Transformation Fund.

“So, we have representatives in these countries who are Grenadian citizens regardless of how they acquired the citizenship, but there is no link between CBI and diplomacy,” he said. Minister David is of the belief after research, that the country is not violating any section of the Vienna Convention on Trade and Diplomacy. “We do not believe that we are violating any Vienna convention. Our research does not suggest that the Vienna convention is violated.”

The Vienna Convention on Trade says that consular officers and consular employees have “functional immunity” but do not enjoy the broader “personal immunity” accorded to diplomats as provided for in the Vienna Convention on Diplomacy.

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CXC to focus on catering to students with autism 

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by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada 

  • CXC has identified catering to autistic students as an overlooked area
  • In Grenada, it is believed that 1 in 65 individuals will be diagnosed with autism

The 21st Century classroom should be catering to the needs of autistic students, however, the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) has identified this as an area that was overlooked despite significant strides towards the inclusiveness of people with disabilities.

Newly appointed Registrar/Chief Executive Officer, Dr Wayne Wesley, said this was one of the major takeaways from the 51st Council Meeting of CXC held in Grenada.

Identified by CXC as an issue that must be addressed urgently, Dr Wesley stated that going forward, the barriers autistic learners encounter in accessing opportunities for quality education, and then removing those barriers, will be identified. “The suggestion for us is to begin to investigate how our products can give consideration to [people] who are autistic in writing our examinations. We have taken this on board to either work with the universities of the region to help determine how can we put forward assessment instruments that can be utilised by [people] who are autistic.”

According to the US Centres for Disease Control, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterised by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviours, speech, and nonverbal communication, and affects an estimated 1 in 59 children in the United States.

Cristofre Martin, Communications Officer, Autistic Foundation of Grenada, stated there is no not sufficient data to give an accurate number of students with autism, however, it is believed that 1 in 65 individuals will be diagnosed with autism. “There is no definitive answer as far as how many children in Grenada have autism. This is primarily due to a lack of diagnostics here. Our foundation offers what is called ADOS 1 assessments which can make an initial determination if a child falls on the autism spectrum. Definitive diagnosis then can only be obtained off-island sadly. There is no reason to believe that the incidence of autism is different than anywhere else in the world,” he said.

Martin said the move by CXC to cater for students with autism is commendable. “Having CXC consider children with autism and other special needs is one step towards fulfilling the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child for universally accessible to education.”

Dr Wesley admitted that today’s classroom delivery style is similar to that of the 18th Century which lacks certain core competencies like collaboration, digital literacy, critical thinking, and problem-solving to help students thrive in today’s society. “We really need to change how education is currently being delivered. We would have heard from varying sources that are classroom delivery style right now is similar to that of the 18th Century…How do we change how information is delivered and received by participants, both teachers and learners?”

He informed that CXC will no longer just be an examining body, but one that influences teaching learning and assessment, moving towards changing the environment in which people learn. Another CXC mandate is to have the CPEA widely accepted by all countries throughout the region. “Another thing we want to do within the context of what Caricom has been articulating about the Caricom Single Market and Economy is [that] our CPEA should be as popularly accepted as our CSEC programme right across the region. Because if we are serious about the free movement of people across the region, people move with families and families involve children, and children who have to go to school and you have children across varying in age group that will be moving across the region. If we get the CPEA right across the region, we would advance significantly the objective for Caricom to be a single market economy for which all [people] will be able to realise the kind of movement required as we go across the region.”

Another crucial takeaway mentioned by Dr Wesley was the need to reduce the number of students leaving school without minimum competencies. “Right across the region, it is well known that a lot of our students leaving secondary school are actually leaving without the requite minimum competencies required to function in society. So, discussion around our products specifically the Caribbean Certificate of Secondary Level Competence (CCSLC) and the value of the CCSLC. I understand that there are challenges surrounding the CCSLC, but I guess once we begin to position that particular product the right way then people will understand that it is not about the less fortunate or those who cannot really perform, but it is about rescuing the young people of this region and ensure that they are equipped with the requisite minimum competencies,” he said.

To address this matter, Dr Wesley has called for CCSLC to be looked at as a continuum rather than a one-off assessment, to de-emphasise the assessment and begin to emphasise more the process to acquire the requisite learning experiences.

“I think one of the important points that came out is that we should not necessarily look at assessment as the end-all of what we do, but it is really a process, a continuum on which we are allowing persons to experience certain exposure to skills and competencies that they require in order to function in society. And I think we need to de-emphasise the assessment and begin to emphasise more the process that are leading to our students acquiring the requisite learning experiences that we want them to experience,” he said. “We are looking at how do we reposition those products so we can rescue those persons who are leaving school not necessarily being equipped with some level of certification.”

Awards for outstanding performance in the May/June 2019 Examination were presented at the Regional Top Awards Ceremony held during the 51st Council Meeting of the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) on Thursday, 5 December 2019.

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National Sustainable Development Plan 2020–2035

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Excerpt from the Executive Summary

National Message: This National Sustainable Development Plan (NSDP) is the anchor for Grenada’s development agenda and priorities for the period 2020-2035. It provides strategic direction to steer the Tri-island State toward achieving Vision 2035 and as such, it puts forward localised solutions that are aimed at fundamentally improving the way we as Grenadians live, work, treat our natural environment, and interact with our institutions and each other. In so doing, it provides an opportunity for significant national transformation. The Plan is firmly grounded in Grenadian realities and is built on the aspirations of the Grenadian people. It has been formulated on broad-based extensive and intensive dialogue with Grenadians across all spheres and walks of life. It identifies pathways to:

  • Empower Grenadians to see themselves as being capable of achieving greatness.
  • Change mindsets away from limitations and toward possibilities.
  • Elevate the level of consciousness, patriotism, spirituality, and care for each other.
  • Strengthen communities, reduce inequality, and promote social justice.
  • Transform the economy to make it more competitive, productive, and dynamic to expand opportunities for employment and entrepreneurship.
  • Preserve and protect Grenada’s natural environment.
  • Strengthen governance and institutions.

National Goals: The strategic focus of the NSDP 2020-2035 rests on the three sustainable development pillars; the society, the economy, and the environment. Accordingly, Vision 2035 is translated into the following three National Goals.

  • Goal #1: High Human and Social Development: Putting People at the Center of Sustainable Development and Transformation.
  • Goal #2: Vibrant, Dynamic, Competitive Economy with Supporting Climate-and-Disaster-Resilient Infrastructure.
  • Goal #3: Environmental Sustainability & Security.

National Development Outcomes: The National Goals are mapped into eight National Outcomes, which are the improvements or positive changes in institutions, systems, communities, behaviours, living conditions, or knowledge that we aim for. Each National Outcome is linked to relevant Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The National Outcomes are:

  • Outcome #1 – A Healthy Population
  • Outcome #2 – Educated, Productive, Highly-Skilled, Trained, and Conscious Citizens
  • Outcome #3 – A Resilient, Inclusive, Gender-Sensitive, and Peaceful Society
  • Outcome #4 – Broad-based, Inclusive, and Sustainable Economic Growth and Transformation
  • Outcome #5 – Competitive Business Environment
  • Outcome #6 – Modern Climate-and-Disaster-Resilient Infrastructure
  • Outcome #7 – Climate Resilience and Hazard Risk Reduction
  • Outcome #8 – Energy Security and Efficiency

National Sustainable Development Plan

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