Archive for March 2014

The Caribbean’s Fiscal Dilemma: To Cut or Not to Cut?


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by Valerie Mercer-Blackman

512px-Ripple_effect_on_waterphoto by Sergiu Bacioiu from Romania, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons,  user Avenue X at Cicero

What has been the technical assistance and policy advice from International Financial Institutions (IFIs) to select Caribbean countries in the area of fiscal sustainability? The International Financial Institutions (International Monetary Fund in particular, World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank and the Caribbean Development Bank) have invested a lot of resources in technical assistance and policy advice over the last 20 years advising on policies which can improve fiscal sustainability. A recent IDB Policy Brief entitled:  ‘To Cut or Not to Cut’ looks at this issue. > Read more

Reducing Community Violence Starts at Home


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by Mary Vriniotis

512px-RBPF_PolicemanRoyal Bahamas Policeman manually controlling traffic in downtown Nassau
by Ritchie Sieradzki, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, user RSieradzki 

Earlier this month I attended “Crime and Violence in The Bahamas: Data-Driven Policies for Effective Citizen Security”, a workshop jointly hosted by the IDB and the Government of The Bahamas. The purpose of the workshop was to learn about evidence-based approaches to violence reduction that have been successful elsewhere, and consider how stakeholders in The Bahamas can work together to achieve similar successes. In addition to law enforcement, there were attendees from the attorney general’s office, social services, statistics, and various NGOs, to name a few.

Visiting speakers outlined several different ways of addressing violence. Former Detective Chief Superintendent John Carnochan, co-founder of the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit, discussed the public health approach, which identifies those at-risk of perpetrating violence BEFORE an incident has occurred, and works across multiple disciplines to mitigate that risk. He told the story of “David”, a young man with a troubled childhood, surrounded by peers who also had troubled childhoods, who starts carrying a knife because everyone else he knows carries a knife. An altercation becomes a murder, and after David is released from prison, he is returned to the troubled community that led him to prison in the first place. Carnochan identifies the multiple points in David’s story where an intervention could have drastically changed his life, and details a case-management approach now in place that brings together police, social services, education, hospitals, and other stakeholders to regularly share information on their clients and identify gaps in services. > Read more

An Innovation Revolution by 2025?


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by Carina Cockburn

logo LAC2025

I attended a marvelous thought provoking presentation to IDB staff entitled LAC 2025, led by our president Luis Alberto Moreno.  In a modern accessible format, different members of staff guided us through a snapshot of the bank’s vision for Latin America in the next 10 years or so.  While Caribbean voices were not totally absent (a citizen security project in CTT was mentioned and a CCB staff member spoke), there really was not much meat in there about the Caribbean.

Yet new exciting things are happening in our sub-region too.  How can we shine a bright light on these developments and bring them into focus as ground breaking examples for the wider Latin American and Caribbean region?  It means changing the conversation about our region and the work taking place there.  Long used to making the case for aid and loans, we now need to find a space to showcase our gifts of home grown Caribbean innovation, creativity and cutting edge thinking.  Where could we be by 2025 if we shook off the fetters of debt and size, and allowed our ideas to flow freely? > Read more

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Shame on you, Dan Brown! Shame on you!


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by Guest blogger, @Marcello Basani 

William Blake: illustration to Dante The Divine Comedy, Inferno, Canto I, 1-90
photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, Attribution, photographer unknown, user, Meladina

I will spare you the usual introduction on how intellectual, witting and intriguing I can be. That you know from my previous entries.

If you really want to know, many of the ideas I write in this blog are based on what I read. And as a cosmopolitan professional and blogger, I like to keep “cool” with my books. Name any “cool” book; I have already read it. I consume “Murakamis” at breakfast, and “Dostoyevskys” to go to sleep.

However, when my wife is not looking and I do not need to be smart, I occasionally entertain myself with the latest page-turner to give my brain a vacation. I know I should not post this on a blog but hey, this is what I do. Now you know it. Do not tell my wife.

I am currently reading Inferno by Dan Brown. Half of you guys are probably rolling your eyes now. Sure the book clumsily mixes fiction and facts, using easy-cheesy tricks to keep the reader glued to the pages. However, I cannot help appreciate the extravagant descriptions of my beloved Italy, its art and its people (me!). Ah, what pride! > Read more

Will Trinidad & Tobago’s energy services suppliers outlast the country’s energy supply?


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by Michael Hennessey

PoSHarbourPort of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, viewed from the harbour
photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, by User:Guettarda

Will Trinidad & Tobago’s energy services suppliers outlast the country’s energy supply? This was one of the questions posed to the participants of the Joint Dialogue on the Trinidad & Tobago Private Sector Assessment Report (PSAR) by Dr. Carlos Elias, author of the PSAR, in Port of Spain, February 19. The Joint Dialogue was hosted by the Ministry of Planning and Sustainable Development, in collaboration with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and aimed to engage key public and private sector stakeholders on a set of proposed actions related to the six priority areas identified in the PSAR:

  • Facilitating the expansion and specialization of the energy service sector;
  • Improving the business climate with a focus on consumer protection and market efficiency;
  • Ensuring competitive market mechanisms for imports into Trinidad and Tobago;
  • Increasing access to finance;
  • Creating employment opportunities for the young; and
  • Filling in data gaps. > Read more

The New Legend of El Dorado


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 Muisca_raft_Legend_of_El_Dorado_Offerings_of_gold (1)

photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, by Andrew Bertram.
Muisca raft, representation of the initiation of the new Zipa in the lake of Guatavita, possible source of the legend of El Dorado. It was found in a cave in Pasca, Colombia in 1856, together with many other gold objects. It is 19.5 cm long, 10.1 cm wide and 10.2 cm high. Dated between 1200 and 1500 BC. It is made of an alloy of gold (80%), silver and copper, by using the lost wax method. The cacique in the center is surrounded by attendants and oarsmen.

by Michael Reginald Nelson

No, I’m not talking about the smooth and delicious Guyanese rum – though the taste is legendary.

At the time of early Spanish voyages to the West Indies, many adventurers believed in a mythical figure, El Dorado, the golden man, whose kingdom was believed to be so well-endowed with gold as the great Inca and Mayan civilizations in Mexico and Peru. Discovery – or more explicitly, conquering – of the golden kingdom would bring the Spanish empire immeasurable wealth and power. These men travelled throughout all parts of the Indies, but all inevitably ended up empty handed before opting to pursue other more lucrative ventures.

Obviously times have changed since those days, but with economic growth stagnant in the Caribbean for the past four decades, talk in some countries of ascension to “developed country status” [1] seems to take on similar mythical properties to El Dorado. > Read more

Trinidad and Tobago: Who is going to pay the climate change piper?


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by Guest blogger 


Investing in the future is always a challenging decision, for example planning for retirement  will often seem to be less urgent  when we have pressing daily financial  issues that have to be addressed  now (unless you are near to retirement age of course). Not tomorrow, not in 10 years, but today. But the truth is that, in order to have a financially stable future, we need to know our risks, assess the potential losses and costs associated with them, and plan accordingly. > Read more

Defining a Clear Tourism Brand


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by Kamau Joseph

IMG_4955 copyphoto by Kamau Joseph

Back in the 1960s, the Honourable Lloyd Best and Professor Kari Levitt first put forth the Theory of the Plantation Economy. As Professor Norman Girvan of the University of the West Indies summarised in retrospective notes on the theory, “[Its purpose was] to identify the structural constraints on the growth and transformation of Caribbean economies that arise from the historical legacy of the plantation system.” Fast-forwarding to today, can one say that the prevailing economies in the Caribbean still fit squarely into the model of the Plantation Economy?

IMG_4207 copyphoto by Kamau Joseph > Read more

The Royal Bahamian Potcake is an invaluable dog


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by Syreta Roberts

potcake 1photo by Syreta Roberts

The Potcake has been in The Bahamas for centuries. It has genetically evolved into the resilient champion that it is today. Most parasites and diseases that pedigree dogs would succumb to if they were not vaccinated and not properly cared for would not usually impact the Potcake.

This genetically unique mixed breed dog, makes up the majority of the country’s population of stray dogs. There are approximately 15 thousand strays in New Providence and approximately 15 thousand in the “Family Islands” collectively (Bahamas Humane Society, 2014). These stray Potcakes are considered to be a nuisance to neighbourhoods and communities as they turn over garbage in search of food, carry parasites on their skin that can transfer to domestic pets, have litters of puppies twice a year, and bark relentlessly at night. Domiciled on the streets, the beaches and in the bushes, they sometimes travel in packs and are most vulnerable to motorists. Some become loyal companions to the homeless.

The founders and employees of the country’s first and only Humane Society, plus a minority of Bahamians are among the few who take notice of this native breed. Intermittently, foreign benevolents would sponsor the neutering and caring for of several of these dogs, but these acts are just not enough to curb their plight or promote their unseen value. These dogs are considered throwaways. But are they really? > Read more

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The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Inter-American Development Bank, its Management, its Board of Executive Directors or its member Governments.

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