antiguanews

Month: September, 2014

ASOT MICHAEL MP

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The Hon. Minister Asot Michael, Minister of Tourism, Economic Development Investment and Energy of Antigua and Barbuda

República Dominicana  y Antigua y Barbuda intensifican la búsqueda de mayor acercamiento comercial y de inversión

Cada vez más se intensifican los esfuerzos oficiales entre República Dominicana y Antigua y Barbuda, por el establecimiento de un mayor acercamiento entre ambos naciones, en la perspectiva de que sus respectivos gobiernos puedan generar transformaciones positivas que se expresen en mayores estadios de bienestar económico y social para los dos países.

Esa intención quedó evidenciada nuevamente, con la visita del ministro de Turismo, Economía, Desarrollo, Investigación y Energía de esa nación caribeña, Asot A. Michael, al ingeniero Antonio Vargas Hernández, Ordenador Nacional de los Fondos Europeos para el Desarrollo de la República Dominicana.

En la visita a Vargas Hernández, el ministro de Antigua y Barbuda, estuvo acompañado del Cónsul Honorariode su país, D. Ricardo Koening, y del Cónsul General de República Dominicana en esa nación, Adriano Alberto Herrera Rodríguez.

Durante la mesa de trabajo, Michael y Vargas Hernández, abordaron la pertinencia y necesidad de crear una instancia de enlace que avance enla elaboración de un memorándum de entendimiento que establezca la coordinación y colaboración necesaria para procurar el desarrollo de ambos pueblos.

Asimismo, expresaron su aspiración y la posibilidad de que posteriormente se pueda concretar, previo invitación formal, del Primer Ministro de Antigua y Barbuda a Santo Domingo, con la finalidad de que el referido memorándum sea firmado al más alto nivel, es decir, entre  éste y el Presidente dominicano, licenciado Danilo Medina Sánchez.

Otro aspecto que abordaron en el importante encuentro los altos funcionarios de los dos países, fue el relativo al interés y la importancia de que los dos gobiernos identifiquen proyectos comunes para, en conjunto gestionar financiamientos a través de la Unión Europea.

Asimismo, ambos analizaron y coincidieron en lo significativo que sería el poder viabilizar la visita de inversionistas dominicanos a Antigua y Barbuda, con el objetivo de que puedan explorar posibles mercados para inversiones en la hermana nación.

Jueves 4 de Septiembre, 2014.

Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Browne Meets US on WTO Gaming Issue

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NEW YORK, NY, USA – 29th September 2014…….Prime Minister the Honourable Gaston Browne, one day following his address at the United Nations General Assembly during which he called on the United States Government to settle the outstanding WTO Gaming issue with Antigua and Barbuda, held bilateral talks with senior US officials designed to resolve the issue.

Prime Minister Browne met US Trade Representative, Mr. Michael Froman at the UN Mission of Antigua and Barbuda on Friday morning where both men sat down to open dialogue about the stalled trade dispute and discussed practical ways in which the matter could be brought to a conclusion.

Prime Minister Browne was accompanied by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Hon. Charles ‘Max’ Fernandez and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ambassador Colin Murdoch.

Both sides agreed to put a team together to work out the details of their discussion, and PM Browne undertook to name his team within a week.

Following the meeting Prime Minister Browne outlined,  “I am encouraged that my administration has been able to secure a meeting with the US Trade Representative, Ambassador Froman so early. Ambassador Froman is a Cabinet-level officer of the US Government and this should facilitate decision-making on policy matters.”

Prime Minister Browne had devoted a significant part of his address to the UN General Assembly on Thursday to the WTO gaming case, and claimed that the international trading system had not delivered economic justice for Antigua and Barbuda. In his meeting with Ambassador Froman, PM Browne had outlined the economic losses suffered by Antigua and Barbuda as a result of US non-compliance with the WTO ruling.

Both sides are expected to resume discussions in the coming weeks

Turkey Donates over Two Million US Dollars to Antigua and Barbuda

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NEW YORK, NY, USA – 28th September, 2014……..Prime Minister the Hon.

Gaston Browne in a meeting with President of the Republic of Turkey Tayyip

Erdogan in New York last week, secured over two million US dollars in grant

aid for Antigua and Barbuda.

During the meeting with President Erdogan, Prime Minister Browne expressed

Antigua and Barbuda’s desire to further develop the relations between the

two countries.  He congratulated President Erdogan on being the first

president to be elected by the people of Turkey in free and fair

elections.  He said that President Erdogan’s leadership has led to Turkey

becoming of the most successful developing economies.

President Erdogan during the discussions congratulated Prime Minister

Browne on his recent victory at the polls and outlined that Turkey is

interested in Antigua and Barbuda’s development and provided a grant of two

point one million United States dollars towards project development.

President Erdogan also advised Prime Minister Browne that his country would

welcome Antigua and Barbuda establishing an Embassy in Turkey and that his

government is prepared to cover the cost of rent for the facility for five

years.

Prime Minister Browne welcomed the suggestion and proposed that Turkey also

establish a mission for the Caribbean based in Antigua and Barbuda.  He

also pointed out his government is prepared to work with the government of

Turkey in facilitating Turkish Airlines flying to Antigua and connecting to

other countries within the region.  He said that his government will also

welcome Turkish businessmen exploring investment opportunities in Antigua

and Barbuda.

Both leaders also discussed other areas of cooperation with Turkey

committing to give serious consideration to the provision of a new fire

engine for the V.C. Bird International Airport and financial and technical

support to the government’s Five Hundred Homes in Five Hundred Days

programme.

Both leaders pledged to remain in close contact with President Erdogan

extending a personal invitation to Foreign Minister the Hon. Charles

Fernandez to attend follow-up meetings in Istanbul

Antigua and Barbuda’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations is declared

PM Webson Max 2014 UN

NEW YORK, NY, USA – 28th September, 2014……Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda the Hon. Gaston Browne has announced that Dr. Walton Alfonso “Aubrey” Webson has been appointed as the country’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary.

In a letter to Secretary General of the United Nations, Prime Minister Browne said the Dr. Webson is an outstanding citizen of Antigua and Barbuda who has made significant contributions to the social development of people with disabilities around the world.

“As a visually impaired individual, Dr. Webson has worked extensively in Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa, helping to shape educational services for children with disabilities.  He has also supported governments and social workers in policy development.  I am confident that he is very suitable for the responsibilities entrusted to him,” outlined Prime Minister Browne.

Prime Minister Browne also introduced Dr. Webson to Antiguans and Barbudans living in New York during a town hall meeting on Friday in the Bronx.  He told the over three hundred nationals in attendance that Dr. Webson will be the Head of the Antigua and Barbuda Office in New York with the various department heads reporting to him under a new arrangement which sees the Tourist Office, the Consulate and the Mission to the UN being merged as a single unit.

During the town hall meeting, Prime Minister Browne also announced that an offer has been made to Dr. Dave Ray to be the Diaspora Liaison Officer creating a link between the Diaspora and the government.  He said the move is designed to strengthen the relations with Antiguans and Barbudans in the Diaspora and to have them play and active role in the development of their homeland.  He said the aim is to have Dr. Dave Ray, as Diaspora Liaison Officer, capture the issues of Antiguans and Barbudans in the Diaspora and he will then liaise with the Antigua Office in New York headed by Dr. Webson.

Dr. Webson’s appointment as Permanent Representative to the United Nations takes effect from 1st November.

Asot Michael meets with the Member of Parliament of the Republic of France

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Minister Asot Michael, Minister of Tourism, Economic Development, Investment and Energy with the Honourable Rudy Salles.

The Minister of Tourism, Economic Development, Investment & Energy, The Honourable Asot Michael before leaving Monaco and Nice back to London, held a series of other meetings including a visit with the Honourable Rudy Salles, Member of Parliament of the Republic of France for the past 26 years, and Deputy Mayor of Nice with the portfolio of President of the Tourism, International Relations and Sport Committee of the Métropole – Nice Côte D’Azur Region. Minister Michael held discussions with Mr. Salles in regards to Carnival, as Nice has the oldest (140 yrs old) and second largest Carnival in the world after Rio De Janiero. Mr Salles made a firm commitment to assist Antigua & Barbuda in the growth and development of its own carnival. He has offered invitations to the Minister and the Honourable E.P. Chet Greene, Minister with responsibility for Carnival, Culture and National Festivals and his team to return to Nice to experience their Carnival, held in the second week of February. Mr. Salles offered to support the development of Carnival by providing technical assistance and expertise to the Antigua team in various aspects of carnival development including sending a team from France to Antigua.
The Minister had further discussions on tourism development, marketing and diversification of the tourism industry, which is so critical to the economies of both Nice Cote d’Azur and Antigua & Barbuda. The South of France region is one of the most successful and prominent tourism regions in Europe and remains a premier destination renowned worldwide. Mr Salles has offered to share knowledge and tangible support to the Minister to assist with Antigua’s tourism industry.
Minister Michael discussed with Mr. Salles the opportunity to have student exchange programs as well, wherein students from Antigua and Barbuda may be able to pursue studies in France including the French language. Both Government officials also agreed to a twin city social, economic and cultural arrangement to be signed by Prime Minister Gaston Browne and the Mayor of Nice.
Minister Michael also had the occasion to meet with two multi national private banks, one of which the EFG Bank, is a main sponsor of our own Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta. At a lunch held for Minister Michael, he took the opportunity to invite the Banks to open offices in the Antigua & Barbuda jurisdiction. He was also able to give insights into and to promote the Citizenship By Investment Program, which was well received and both gave an undertaking to promote the Program to their high net worth clients.
Minister Michael was also hosted at the prestigious Monaco Yacht Club on the evening of Friday 26th, September for dinner, during which he held discussions with several private investors from Monaco and Nice on various investment opportunities in Antigua & Barbuda to include hotel and real estate development.

New Ambassadors to Participate in Moving Nation Forward

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Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda the Honourable Gaston Browne, on Friday welcomed four new ambassadors into the country’s diplomatic service.

In a ceremony to present Instruments of Appointment, Governor General Dr. Rodney Williams, acting on the instructions of Prime Minister Browne, appointed Mr. Brian Stuart-Young as Non-Resident Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China; Mr. Gilbert Antoine Boustany as Ambassador at Large/Consul General of Antigua and Barbuda in Miami, USA; Mr. Johann Lebrecht Hesse as Ambassador to the African Union; and Mr. Ernell Casroy James as Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates.

Commenting on the appointments, Prime Minister Browne said that his government wants to ensure that there are individuals in these positions who can help move Antigua and Barbuda forward.

“Our vision is to transform this country into an economic powerhouse in the Caribbean and we have to make sure that we have the right people in the right places and make sure that we have square pegs in square holes and I am confident that these individuals have the capacity to help move the country forward.  What we intend to do is to ensure that we integrate our diplomacy with investments and tourism and to have an integrated product that will be superior to our competitors in the Caribbean,” Prime Minister Browne noted.

The country’s leader said that it is his belief that in the near future, Antigua and Barbuda should see more investments and more tourists coming to the country as his government gets the human resources in place in the various capitals of the world.  He said that it is also the government’s intention to appoint a number of economic envoys around the world.

“The whole idea is to make sure that we have economic envoys in every single major capital of the world because ultimately we must continue to attract tourists and we must be able to attract investments in a sustainable basis in order to grow the economy.  Our goal is to grow the economy by an average of about five percent per annum and in order for that to happen, one must be very assertive about it, perhaps aggressive and do whatever is necessary to make sure that we grow the country’s economy and create opportunities to put the people back to work so that Antiguans and Barbudans can enjoy living standards second to none,” he said.

Prime Minister Browne also announced that within ninety days, Antigua and Barbuda will have a Consul General in the People’s Republic of China working out of a soon to be established Antigua and Barbuda mission there.  He said a Canadian has been selected to serve in that capacity and will report to the Non-Resident Ambassador to China, His Excellency Mr. Brian Stuart-Young.

Foreign Affairs Minister, the Hon.. Charles Fernandez, who was also present at the ceremony, said that the individuals selected were appointed almost exclusively on their capacity to serve.  He stated that from their qualifications, everyone would recognize that they are poised to make a difference in the country’s diplomatic corps. He said that he is looking forward to their contributions to nation building

Asot Michael, Minister of Tourism, Economic Development Investment and Energy, met with representatives of Compete Caribbean and representatives of ABIA

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Digital Photograph From Left to Right: Mrs. Sherelyn Hughes-Thomas (Economic Development and Planning Director, ABIA); Mr. Michiel van der Veur (Consultant Van der Veur Advice); Ms. Sascha Mercer (Marketing & Business Development Director, ABIA); Hon. Asot Michael (Minister of Tourism, Economic Development Investment and Energy); Dr. Sylvia Dohnert (Private Sector Lead Specialist, Inter-American Development Bank and Executive Director, Compete Caribbean Program); Mr. Alejandro Carrion Menendez (Coordinator, Eastern Caribbean (OECS) for Compete Caribbean / Inter-American Development Bank

The Hon. Minister Asot Michael, Minister of Tourism, Economic Development Investment and Energy, met with representatives of Compete Caribbean and representatives of the Antigua & Barbuda Investment Authority (ABIA) to discuss the next phase of ongoing projects that are currently being (co-)funded and facilitated by Compete Caribbean

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The Government of Antigua and Barbuda has received financing from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) under the project named “Compete Caribbean’ for the purpose of ‘Strengthening Investment Attraction in Antigua and Barbuda’ (A1-CC2023)
Compete Caribbean has been engaged with various projects in Antigua & Barbuda, and in particular ‘the Strengthening of Investment Attraction’ and the ‘One Stop Shop Window for Business Registration’. The Strengthening of Investment Attraction will build capacity for attracting and facilitating foreign and domestic investment, by way of developing and implementing strategies for the Diversified Tourism and Information Technology-Enabled Services/Business Process Outsourcing (ITeS/BPO) sectors.
The Minister stated that “he is fully on board and committed to the technical and intrinsic support provided by Compete Caribbean” that has a combined value of $ 1,115,684 ECD for the current projects.
The Hon. Gaston Browne, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance & Corporate Government, has earlier expressed his support as these projects are in keeping with the mandate of rebuilding Antigua and Barbuda through FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) attraction and job creation.
Compete Caribbean is a private sector development program that provides technical assistance grants and investment funding to support productive development policies, business climate reforms, clustering initiatives and Small and Medium Size Enterprise (SME) development activities in the Caribbean region. The program, jointly funded by the Inter-American Development Bank
(IDB), the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) and the Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD), supports projects in 15 Caribbean countries. Projects in the OECS countries are implemented in partnership with the Caribbean Development Bank.
For further information please contact the Ministry of Tourism, Economic Development Investment and Energy

Asot Michael, Minister of Tourism, Economic Development, Investment and Energy meets with Mr. Luis Vicente Cavalli, owner of IAI & the LR Group in Bogota, Colombia.

Minister Michael with the IAI group

Digital photos: Minister Asot Michael, Minister of Tourism, Economic Development, Investment and Energy with Mr. Luis Vicente Cavalli, owner of Innovative Agro Industry (IAI) and the LR Group

The Honourable Asot Michael with a view to bringing sustainable investment to the agro-industries in Antigua and Barbuda met yesterday with Mr. Luis Vicente Cavalli owner of Innovative Agro Industry (IAI) and the LR Group.

They specialize in Agriculture and Agro-Industries, Water treatment systems, reverse osmosis plants, as well as irrigation systems specifically for agricultural projects.

Since 1986 the company has been developing projects in Africa specifically in Angola, Gabon, Uganda and The Congo. They integrate training and technical development as well as secure dedicated financing for their projects from conception to execution. One of the defining features of IAI is the way in which they promote associations between the community and industry partners. They create Multi-disciplinary farms that twin agricultural and livestock activities together with Agroindustrial centers. They construct farm buildings, storage silos, produce processing plants; and offer crop management, dairy farm development, and poultry farm related services.

Minister Michael invited the company and their technical team to Antigua to hold talks with the Honourable Arthur Nibbs and the Ministry of Agriculture to analyze and appraise areas in need of investment and technological advancement in Antigua and Barbuda. The company has also extended an invitation to Minister Nibbs and his team to Colombia and to Israel to see firsthand the possibilities in person.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne and the Government of Antigua and Barbuda believe strongly in strengthening linkages between agriculture and tourism and the overall development of agro-industries on the island.

Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda at 69th SESSION OF THE UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY

PM National Presentation UN 2014

THE HON. GASTON A. BROWNE

Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda

 NATIONAL STATEMENT

 69th SESSION OF THE UN

Mr. President, Colleague Heads Of State & Government, Mr. Secretary General, Distinguished ladies and gentlemen,

I wish, at the outset, to extend heartiest congratulations on your election to the presidency of the Sixty-Ninth Session of the General Assembly. Antigua and Barbuda looks forward to your leadership and guidance throughout this session.

I also offer congratulations to your predecessor, His Excellency Ambassador Dr. John Ashe, on a job well done and for his unrelenting service to the UN community particularly small island developing states.

Mr. President,

I stand before you as perhaps the newest Head of Government at this 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly.

The political party that I have the honour to lead was democratically and overwhelmingly elected as the government of Antigua and Barbuda just three months ago.

I am probably also among the youngest of the Heads of Government at this distinguished gathering.

But though I may be relatively  young and my government new, I have been a steadfast believer in the worth of the United Nations from the moment of my adult consciousness.

The idea that there could be a world without a machinery for leaders to gather in one place, with the single purpose of improving the lives of all mankind, conjures images of chaos, of carnage, and of catastrophe; too frightening to contemplate.

And, while some may argue that the United Nations has not always lived up to its noble purposes, and chaos, carnage and catastrophe have scarred our one planet, I am profoundly aware that without the United Nations these vicious wounds would have been significantly worse.

But even as I rejoice in the existence of the United Nations, I also lament that its largest and most powerful nations have too often used their privileged positions to weaken the authority of the organisation in advancement of their own narrow interests.

It has also been a grave sadness that powerful states have also, in the past, circumvented this body in pursuit of their national goals even in defiance of the solidarity of the larger family of nations.

For these reasons, my government and the people of Antigua and Barbuda strongly support reform of this organisation.

We would like to see reform that democratizes the United Nations to give a greater voice to those countries such as mine that are marginalised in decision making because we are considered too small to make a difference.

We would also welcome comprehensive reform in the UN Security Council that ends the anachronism of vetoes by five permanent members – a system that has no legitimacy in fairness and in global balance; and a system that has often paralyzed the Security Council from acting in a manner that would command worldwide support and acclamation.

Mr. President, it is pardoxical that for these nations,  particularly those that most fiercely advocate respect for democracy and the rule of law – to implement these principles at home but decline to implement them abroad.

Respect for the rule of law and for the democratic principle that gives nations rights that are as inalienable as the rights of the individual in powerful states, must become integral to the process and systems of governance by which the world’s affairs are managed.

Indeed, Mr President, small states, such as mine, rely on the strength of the United Nations and on international respect for democracy and the rule of law to protect us from incursions on our sovereignty and disregard for our rights.

Centuries ago the philosopher Aristotle spoke a compelling truth when he said of the state:

“A state is not a mere society, having a common place, established for the prevention of mutual crime and for the sake of exchange…Political society exists for the sake of noble actions, and not of mere companionship.”

Aristotle’s observation of the state remains valid and legitimate in today’s international system of states that the United Nations represents.

And every state within that international system must recognize that among the purposes of its political society is “noble action”.

In this regard, Mr. President, I draw this assembly’s attention to the fact that it has been 10 long years since my small country – with a population of less than one hundred thousand – secured a favourable decision by the Dispute Settlement Body of the World Trade Organization in a complaint against the United States, of several hundred million inhabitants.

Despite that favourable judgment and, even in the face of losing appeals against it, the United States government has not seen it as a “noble action” to settle with my small state in a manner consistent with the harm done to our economy.

My country has been denied income which – had we continued to earn – would have contributed significantly to the welfare of my people, and to the capacity of our economy to cope with the grave effects of Climate Change and the financial crisis to which we became a casualty.

I stress, Mr. President, that when my country took the United States before the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body, we did so not as an act of hostility to a neighbor with whom we enjoyed a long and friendly relationship; we did so because we had a duty of care to our people.

My small state was the victim of a trade violation.

In good faith, we sought relief within the international system and the democratic principles and rule of law that it is meant to uphold.

To be fair, the system delivered justice.

But, in doing so, its weakness was exposed when justice could not be enforced because the powerful party whom it found against would not settle with the small country that it injured.

However, Mr. President, if democracy and the rule of law are to prevail in our international system, they have to be upheld and respected by the powerful as much as they are imposed upon the weak, or, indeed, it will foster resentment, discontent and possibly conflict.

Yesterday, speaking in this very forum, the distinguished President of the United States, Barack Obama, said that “….right makes might – that bigger nations should not be able to bully smaller ones.” If this universal truth is a guiding principle of his Government, then the United States cannot continue to approbate and reprobate on this principle.

The noble thing is for the United States to settle this long outstanding judgment fairly and expeditiously.

In another context but similar principle, President Obama said a year ago the following:

“The principle of sovereignty is at the center of our international order. But sovereignty cannot be an excuse for the international community to turn a blind eye”.

President Obama was perfectly right.

And that is why I believe he will agree that sovereignty and power should not be a shield against the fulfilment of obligations independently assessed or an excuse for not settling this very vexing issue.

Mr. President:

I am sure that President Obama would also agree, that the international community cannot turn a blind eye to the blockade imposed on.

Antigua and Barbuda supports the preservation of the sovereignty of every nation.  We are very proud of our long-standing relationship with the Republic of Cuba.

We therefore join with the international community and condemn any discriminatory and retaliatory policies and practices, which serve to prevent Cuba from exercising its right to freely participate in the affairs of the hemisphere.

My government firmly believes that any application of unilateral and extraterritorial coercive laws and measures, that conflict with International Law and the principles of free navigation and international trade is wrong.

We therefore urge our long-standing friend, the United States, to respect and take note of the numerous calls by the United Nations to immediately bring and end to the unjust economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed on our neighbour Cuba.

Mr President, my small country has no military might, it has no economic clout.

All that we have is membership of the international system as our shield, and our voice in this body as our sword.

That is why we will continue to uphold the value of this United Nations vigorously and why we will join the effort for its reform to make it the guardian of all nations and all peoples.

Mr President,

I want to express my government’s full agreement with your decision to make the theme of this General Assembly debate, ‘Delivering on and Implementing a Transformative Post-2015 Development Agenda.’

It is well known now that the Millennium Development Goals Taskforce has reported mixed progress in the achievement of key targets.

Among the targets on which there has been insufficient acceleration has been Official Development Assistance.

I congratulate those countries who have reached the pledged target of 0.7% Official Development Assistance to Gross National Income.

However, Mr. President, the developed world is still not meeting the target of US$315 billion.   Indeed, it is not even fulfilling half that amount.

My own country, and the CARICOM region as a whole have witnessed a decline in bilateral assistance from larger and richer nations within our own hemisphere, and we have relied on non-traditional sources such as the People’s Republic of China and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

On the issue of energy, the high costs of which cripple our country, the Venezuelan Petro Caribe arrangement has been a life belt in a sea of turbulence.

We acknowledge with gratitude too the contributions of our other international partners to include the European Union.

However, as we go forward, Mr. President, there is clearly a need for more global engagement on development assistance with representatives at the table not only of donors but recipients.

Beyond all this – and as a most urgent matter – the international financial institutions must be urged to stop penalizing small states in the Caribbean on the basis of their flawed per capita income criterion.

Our countries are denied access to concessional financing because we are classified as middle-income countries.

This obdurate attitude of the International Financial Institutions, in not devising better criteria for assessing the eligibility of our small economies for concessionary financing, forces us into the commercial market.

The consequence of this is that our debt is rising and many of us are among the most highly indebted countries in the world on a per capita basis.

But, what is the alternative?  Rhetorically I ask  once again what is the alternative

Mr President,

It is said that “six years after the global economy collapsed, jobs are being created, global financial systems have stabilized and people are once again being lifted out of poverty”, but this is not a universal truth.

In the case of small states in the Caribbean, the global economic crisis in 2008 in whose creation we played no part, sent our economies into a tailspin.

We are yet to recover fully from its impact, and we will probably never recover the development-ground that we lost.

 

Remarkably, a significant number of our educated young people are unemployed.

If we fail to satisfy their aspirations, we condemn them to a life on the margins of society at best, or a life of crime and violence at worst.

No nation can opt for so devastating an alternative.

There is now an urgent need for this United Nations body, through one of its appropriate organs, to address the large debt that has been accumulated by CARICOM countries that have experienced declining aid; poor terms of trade;  the imposition of high costs for regulation of financial services; and the costs of curbing drug trafficking and stopping refugees.

Those countries in the Caribbean – including my own – that are now increasing their debt, are not doing so because of poor policies, or because we are not focussed on increased productivity and growth; nor are we doing so because of high expenditure on vanity projects or unsustainable ventures.  We are doing so to build the socio-economic infrastructure to facilitate revenue generation.

The fact of the matter is that the global crisis that began in 2008 has set our economies back to pre-1974 levels. While we are tightening our belts, forging relations with the private sector, and energetically seeking foreign direct investment in productive enterprises, we are scraping our way uphill having been pushed downwards by a deluge of external factors.

The United Nations Organisation cannot step back from these realities, and it would be wrong – as it has been wrong for some time – for it to abdicate its responsibility for action to multilateral organisations whose membership is made up only of a few, however powerful they may be.

Indeed, it is precisely because the members of these groups are powerful, and they reach into a network of economic and political decision-making bodies that can easily impose their will on the weak and vulnerable, that the United Nations organisation should not abandon its responsibilities to the weak who depend on it.

Mr. President,

I could not leave this podium without addressing the war on terror and the issue of the dreaded disease Ibola.

The threat of Ibola requires a global response and we urge the international community to act swiftly and decisively in combatting what could become a global pandemic with grave socio-economic consequences for small states; especially our fragile tourism dependent countries in the Caribbean.

Antigua and Barbuda commends the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela for its pledge of five million dollars towards the Ebola eradication budget and the Republic of Cuba for sending 165 doctors.  We call on members of the international community to contribute towards the effort.

Antigua & Barbuda condemns the savage and cruel acts of the Jihadists of the Islamic State who beheaded three civilians.

On behalf of the government and people of Antigua and Barbuda, I express deepest sympathy to the families of the victims and to the people of the United States, France and the United Kingdom.

There can be no justification for such barbaric behaviour.

We cannot afford a world that slips back into the dark ages when violence, wars and barbarism were the stock-in-trade of religious intolerance and ethnic divisions.

Yet, as we survey the global scene there are deeply troubling instances of such behaviour in Europe, in Africa, and in the Middle-East.

In all this, the role of the United Nations becomes critically important – what is required is not unilateral acts that will embroil specific nations in cycles of violent retaliations; what is required is a United Nations whose member states, particularly those on the Security Council, to act together to defend peace and security.

Mr. President,

Only one hundred days in Office, my government has demonstrated its commitment to building an all- inclusive, all empowering, egalitarian society, by promoting the protection of women’s rights, gender equality and the rights of the disabled.

We see these issues not only as human rights issues, but as essential components of sustainable development, peace, social justice and security.

At our first session of Parliament, my government ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  We have gone further and have appointed a distinguished son of the soil who is visually challenged, to serve as our distinguished Ambassador to the United Nations.

We have also appointed a plethora of women to serve in the Upper House of Parliament, as ambassadors and in other key positions within the public sector.

It is my government’s pledge to continue to work towards full gender equality and the advancement  and empowerment of women.

Mr President,

When you were elected to superintend the affairs of this 69th General Assembly, you remarked that “to say we are lliving in tumultuous times would seem an understatement”.

You noted that the entire world is facing challenges such as poverty and hunger, climate change and rising sea levels, persistent unemployment, armed conflicts and Ebola.

You called on this global body to tackle these challenges “with dedication, single-mindedness of purpose and compromise,” and “a sense of resolve and resilience.”

You were right to do so.

Crisis is staring human civilization in the face and, whether it is climate change, the Ebola virus or the threat posed by the Islamic State, we all face a future where these challenges can only be dealt with by joint international action.

The United Nations, the Parliament of Parliaments, is the place where this joint action is to be decided and implemented.

We need to strengthen the UN’s capacity for such action, whether military or humanitarian.

Mr. President, there is no substitute for the United Nations.

Antigua and Barbuda pledges its continued support and participation in the work of the United Nations.