Dominica News

St. Croix woman celebrates 108th birthday

Daily News Photo by FIONA STOKES Zephrine Antonia Thomas talks with her oldest son, Lloyd Daley, on the eve of her 108th birthday Monday. | 8/27/14 12:04 AM
Talking Panama

Over the past few weeks the spotlight fell on the Panama Canal, the Wonder of the World which Barbadian labour helped to build 100 years ago.

There was keen interest in the exhibition mounted by the Barbados Museum in honour of their contribution and several guests turned out for the official opening and to hear British author Matthew Parker’s lecture on the construction of the canal.

The exhibition entitled We Were Giants: The Story Of The Barbadians Who Built The Panama Canal and the lecture attracted historians, descendants of the Barbadian plantocracy, descendants of Barbadians who went to Panama, and a few Barbadians from the diaspora.

After the lecture, guests such as historians Lennox Honeychurch of Dominica, Dr Karl Watson and Sir Woodville Marshall, Senator Professor Henry Fraser, Minister of Foreign Affairs Senator Maxine McClean and ancestry expert Sandra Taitt-Eaddy discussed the event over cocktails. | 8/25/14 1:00 PM
Domino stars

Bajans definitely rule the tables.

Barbados are the world champions in dominoes once more, after winning the crown for a record tenth time, and also completing a three-peat at the Sea Rock Dome, Maxwell Road yesterday.

With waves from the Atlantic Ocean slapping against the sea-rocks, the Bajans, buoyed on by raucous home support, dug deep to capture the title at the 16th World Council Federation of Dominoes championships, while leaving contenders Antigua and Barbuda in the second spot for the fourth time in succession. 

Previously Barbados won the crown in St Lucia in 2010 and in Orlando in 2012.

Barbados ended with 23 points, Antigua and Barbuda 18, Guyana four, Anguilla three and the United States finished in the cellar without a point. The Bajans captured the Team Four-Hand, the Mixed Pairs and the Male and Female Pairs, en route to the title.

Runner-ups Antigua & Barbuda, who are vying to host the 2016 championship, challenged Barbados throughout, while leading at times during the week of action. They won the Female Team Three-Hand, and the King and Queen titles, while Guyana took the male Three-Hand crown.

Although Barbados cemented their title in the final contest, the team Four-Hand, the template was established by the brilliance from the mixed as well as the male and female pairs. Shurland Bovell and Adrian Hinds showed that their male pairs win in Orlando was no fluke by repeating yesterday.

Suzette Hinds and Sherryanne Dawson took the female pairs to add to the mixed title, which Hamilton Durant and Charmaine Carter had snatched early yesterday morning.

Manager of the team, Major Vernon Gittens, while lamenting the fact that teams like St Lucia and Dominica did not participate in this year’s tourney, had nothing but praise for his team.

“We in Barbados take dominoes very serious and although the other countries play and compete with a high degree of seriousness, we take it to another level.

“While we regret that St Lucia and Dominica did not take part to make the competition even higher than it was, I am confident that Barbados would have still won.  At times we trailed Antigua and Barbuda who are definitely improving every year.  But, with good competitors in every category of the competition, Barbados had the edge to take the title,” said Major Gittens.

Team captain Dennis Nowell was also happy with the performance of his team and with the capture of the crown at home. 

“This is a tremendous feeling.  We are really, really, really happy with the way how things turned out.  Things were tight at times but we were always confident that we would have pulled it off in the end.”

Major Gittens indicated that the success of the Barbados team over the years had helped to remove the stigma that dominoes was a game played only in rum shops.

“Playing in a setting like this and winning our tenth world title will certainly help us in the drive to get players from all levels of society as well as to get more youth involved.

“Our schools’ programmes have been helping to provide younger players for our sport and this year we saw not only the experienced players leading Barbados to another title, but the overall play from the newcomers augurs well for the future of dominoes,” he said. | 8/24/14 4:06 AM
Junior chefs do battle

THE SIXTH EDITION of the Caribbean Junior Duelling Challenge fired up yesterday afternoon at The Dining Club, Newton Industrial Park, Christ Church.

Among the highlights was a depiction of the island’s underwater beauty by executive pastry chef at the Lincoln Culinary Institute in America, chef Manfred Schmidtke.

He created a centrepiece in an hour and a half by casting sugar to make the base, pulling sugar to mould the fish and coral.

Teams from Barbados, Bonaire, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, St Croix and St Lucia will vie for the 2014 title. After a weekend of competition, the winning team will be announced on Sunday evening, at a gala dinner and awards ceremony.

Executive producer chef Peter Edey, told the NATION a conference was also included this year featuring speakers from the Caribbean Examinations Council, the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Council, as well as demonstrations from chefs Anton Doos and Schmidtke. (LW) | 8/23/14 5:54 PM
Youth take on culinary challenge

THE FOCUS ON Caribbean style food is being taken to a new level with the introduction of a junior culinary conference being held in Barbados.

Seven teams from throughout the region are presently in the island as part of that conference which was officially launched at Building 11, Newton Industrial Estate, Newton, Christ Church this morning.

The Junior Duelling Challenge programmes were developed about ten years ago to encourage young people to pursue careers in the culinary arts, provide training and guidance and to promote the use of local and Caribbean products and produce.

The Caribbean Junior Duelling Challenge celebrates its sixth anniversary this month.

The conference features interactive presentations by a number of sponsors and demonstrations by international chefs. These will precede the weekend’s main attraction, the Caribbean Junior Duelling Challenge, in which the seven teams from Bonaire, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, St. Croix, St. Lucia and hosts, Barbados. (JS) | 8/21/14 5:05 PM
BEHIND THE HEADLINES: A case for Caribbean assistance

Do for Barbados, Antigua, Jamaica and their neighbours what is being planned for Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Mozambique and their African  neighbours.

Any such plan of action should include trade and other initiatives designed to spur economic growth at a time when Barbados, the Bahamas, Dominica, Grenada and the rest of the region are facing serious economic challenges.

That, in essence, is the bottom line in an appeal articulated to BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY by Eliot Engel, a top Democrat on the House of Representatives influential Foreign Affairs Committee.

What he had to say is considered important because if his party gains control of the House by winning a majority of seats in the upcoming November Congressional election, an unlikely scenario by the way, Engel would become chairman of the influential panel.

“I think that what is being planned for Africa is a good move and we must act on it,” said Engel. “The Caribbean island nations are going through tough economic times and we should be doing more to help them.

“I have always felt that when it comes to the Caribbean a little bit of money goes a long, long way and it pains me to see that these countries are crying out for help.

“We see China or Russia, even Iran trying to move into the region. We need to concentrate on supporting the economies of these countries.”

Engel made his comments a few days after United States President Barack Obama praised the three-day US-Africa summit in Washington that was attended by almost 50 African heads of state and governments.

He described the massive gathering as “an extraordinary event” which is expected, among other things, to inject US$37 billion in private and public sector investments in agriculture, health and economic development.

It is also expected to boost human rights standards and improve security on the continent.

Obama called the talks a “forcing mechanism for decisions and actions, so we agreed that the US-African summit will be a recurring event to hold ourselves accountable for our commitment and to sustain our momentum.”

As the “ranking” member of the Foreign Affairs panel, Engel, a lawmaker on Capitol Hill for more than 20 years, participated in some of the summit’s official functions and he called the meetings an important step forward. But he was quick to say he didn’t understand why the US hadn’t done more for the Caribbean, especially the English-speaking states that belong to CARICOM.

“We need to concentrate on supporting the economies of these countries and we should see the Caribbean-American community in the United States as an important part of our country,” was the way Engel put it.

“Immigrants from these nations have come to the US and have made great strides, contributing to our prosperity. I really believe we should be pushing economic development in the Caribbean, the details of which can be worked out by negotiators. It always irritates me that we don’t have the kind of ties with the Caribbean that are necessary and vital to our interests.

“The Caribbean is close to us geographically but it always seems to me that when we consider the region for assistance something comes up and the countries get pushed to the background,” Engel complained. “I am tired of that happening and I really want that to stop. We need to help the Caribbean and other countries and region. We can and must do both. The Caribbean is an important partner in the Western Hemisphere.”

Engel who is running for re-election has a relatively large West Indian constituency in his  16th Congressional District in New York which includes many neighborhoods in the Bronx, Yonkers, Mt. Vernon, Scarsdale, Mamaroneck, Riverdale, Co-op City and Woodlawn. At least 1 500 Bajans and Guyanese are his constituents. When the Democrats controlled the House a few years ago he was Chairman of the Western Hemisphere sub-committee  of the Foreign Affairs panel and he led a Congressional delegation to the Eastern Caribbean.

“People from the Caribbean, especially the eastern Caribbean are among the most hard-working Americans and immigrants in our country,” Engel asserted. “They arrived here from the islands and set about making an important contribution. I was part of the US-Africa summit and I believe it was important for us to have this African initiative but I am also concerned about our friends and neighbors in the Caribbean. They are closest to us.

“The ties between the US and the Caribbean are even closer. Yes, we should have an initiative for them.”

As the 67-year old federal lawmaker sees it, any package of assistance to the island-nations should include a strong economic component

that would address many of the crucial needs of America’s neighbours who are suffering from stagnating economies, high unemployment, a heavy debt burden, and widening fiscal deficits.

“They need help and they are our neighbours and should be assisted,” said the Congressional representative who is expected to gain easy re-election this year. | 8/21/14 1:18 PM
Government considers entering Tommy Lee case
Attorney General Patrick Atkinson is to decide whether the Government will become involved in the case of four Jamaicans who were denied entry to Dominica in February. | 8/18/14 5:44 PM
BEHIND THE HEADLINES: Canada still banking on the Caribbean

Are Canadian banks in Barbados and its neighbours staying put? Should Barbados and the rest of the region worry about the future of their commercial banking system whose backbone consists of the vertebra of three of Canada’s largest commercial financial institutions?

These questions were asked across the Caribbean and in Canada after the Royal Bank of Canada decided to sell its business in Jamaica to Sagicor Group Jamaica Limited and may end up losing as much as CAN$37 million this year on that sale by the time the bank’s third quarter financial statements are released.

And as if that wasn’t enough, the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, CIBC, Canada’s fifth largest commercial bank, which owns the Barbados-based First Caribbean Bank, swallowed more than CAN$100 million in loan losses and a much larger goodwill impairment charge. Hence the worry: will the Canadians consider pulling out of the area in whole or part?

The answer from CIBC, the Royal Bank of Canada and the Bank of Nova Scotia: we are staying put. We are in for the long haul. And to get the message to the region senior bank executives in Toronto met several weeks ago with the Caribbean’s top diplomats in Ottawa.

One such representative was Evelyn Greaves, who until recently was Barbados’ High Commissioner in Ottawa but who voluntarily stepped down from his diplomatic duties in the Canadian capital a few weeks ago. He told BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY the assurance was clear.

“The sense of the discussions we as High Commissioners from the Caribbean had with the senior Canadian banking executives who came from Toronto to meet with us was that the banks weren’t considering leaving,” Greaves explained.

“The directors who have responsibility for the Caribbean requested the meeting because there was a feeling based on what we were reading that the banks were having different thoughts on the Caribbean from what existed before.

“They had pulled out of Jamaica because of intense competition and they were making some changes in Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados.”

Yes, the executives conceded, the Caribbean wasn’t as profitable as before, but what was also true was that the area was an important business centre to which the Canadians were committed.

“That was the sense we got from the meeting,” Greaves said.

Now the banks are upping the ante. They told the Financial Post, a major business daily paper that’s considered the Wall Street Journal of Canada or the Financial Times of Ontario, that Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, the Bahamas and their neighbours are in their bank’s future.

“We remain committed to the Caribbean,” said Kirk Dudtschak, the president of Royal Bank’s Caribbean banking network.

“We believe we have turned the corner.”

As he saw it, “there are already signs in the tourism focused countries that numbers are beginning to turn. There are governments and countries that are taking their own restructuring seriously and that also is creating stability from an economic perspective.”

Dieter Jentsch, who heads Scotiabank’s international banking, gave a similar assurance.

“The Caribbean is an important source of earnings for us,” was the way he put it to the Post. “The growth trajectory isn’t what it was historically, but it does have a very reasonable return on shareholder equity. “

“We’re still proud to say we were profitable in the Caribbean,” Jentsch added.

“That in itself represents a collective win for the bank.”

But CIBC appeared a bit more cautious. “Unfortunately, it’s going to take us longer because the economic environment has not started to improve like we felt it would,” Richard Nesbitt of CIBC explained to the paper.

“And so, the process is going to take longer.”

Another somewhat sober assessment was articulated by John Aiken, an analyst with Barclays PLC.

“Given the difficulties that the region has faced and the growth that each of the three banks have had in other areas, the Caribbean has definitely declined in importance,” asserted Aiken. “I don’t believe that investors view the Caribbean operations as material to overall results.”

But if Barbados, Guyana, the Cayman Islands, Antigua, the British virgin islands, Dominica and others in the region are anxious about the future then they can find a measure of comfort in the analysis of Som Seif, chief executive officer of Purpose Investments Inc. in Toronto.

“The banks should be where they think they can make money and can build a good business,” he said. “I don’t look at the Caribbean as being riskier than Thailand or Brazil, or even the United States.” | 8/18/14 4:00 AM

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