Vice President and Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge has confirmed that Guyana has honoured its financial obligations to the Caribbean Community (Caricom) even as the regional body continues to face some financial challenges while executing its mandate.The Minister said as a general observation, many countries within the Region have experienced financial difficulties in recent years. However, he noted, “Financial challenges faced by Caricom are not the result of failure by Guyana to make itsForeign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidgecontributions.”Greenidge also made it clear that Caricom has to redouble its efforts to cut wastage of resources, both financial and otherwise, in order to meet the demands of a changing global arena.The Minister said that funding for many regional projects were on the decline and Caricom Member States were experiencing their own financial challenges in order to keep up with the increasing number of meetings, forums and engagements that require their participation and input.He said that these engagements while necessary, as Caricom seeks to forge ahead with its one economic policy and space and Latin America reintegration initiative, Member States were expressing scepticism about the bill they may have to foot as the situation domestically with regard to finances remained grim.“As the international community takes up all sorts of new challenges, whether it be environment, global warming, new institutions are established…it sometimes require additional technicians, more money and it becomes increasingly burdensome for most countries,” he added.Asked whether he anticipates that Guyana may be called upon to pay a large financial contribution to Caricom in light of the massive oil finds and exploration activities here, the Foreign Affairs Minister responded in the negative, stating that he did not anticipate any such indication. He said, “I wouldn’t expect responsible Caricom Government to be demanding that you pay now in anticipation of revenues to appear in 2020 and beyond. We have always contributed to Caricom development in accordance with our capacity. And when Guyana was doing well financially and economically, Guyana went out of its way to lend support to the integration movement, both by ways of financing and this will continue when we have resources to do so.” Caricom has been facing many financial challenges since the 2008 economic crisis which shattered the economies of several of its Member States. While some have managed to rebound from the impact of the crisis, others have generally been unable to meet their financial obligations as far as contributing revenue to the bloc to keep its Georgetown-based Secretariat going.Although Caricom is one of the oldest integration schemes in the Western Hemisphere and the largest in terms of membership, it is by far the smallest in economic and geographic terms. Caribbean economies have either stagnated or grown very slowly, and high unemployment has become chronic. Despite important policy changes, export diversification has been limited for generating huge growth rates.Despite the challenges faced by the bloc, particularly the ravaging effects of the 2017 hurricane season which has cast a long shadow over the Region, the over US$2 billion pledged at the Caricom-United Nations conference for long-term recovery for hurricane-affected countries and the establishment of the regional renewable energy centre were among the successes recently recorded by Caricom.
The ability of the Eugene F Correia International Airport, Ogle, East Coast Demerara, staffers and relevant stakeholders was put to the test on Friday morning when an emergency exercise was conducted at the facility where the team was exposed to responding to a firsthand mass causality incident and bomb threat.Director of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), Egbert Field told the media that such an exercise is supposed to be conducted at least once per year.During the emergency exercise, the Guyana Fire Service and the Police Force were summoned and promptly responded, he said.“I think the response time was could, could have been better. We commenced the exercise and within I think three or four minutes the Fire Service was out there so like I said we will look at the stopwatches. From my vantage point in the tower I would say that the response was in accordance with standard operating procedures,” Field explained.First aiders responding to a mass casuality at the Eugene F Correia International Airport during the emergency preparedness exerciseAlthough the activity was lauded a success, the Director warned that persons must not get complacent but rather, continue to work hard to be ready to manoeuver in the event of an actual emergency.Meanwhile, Captain Jack McGovern of Virginia, who has been participating in the exercises since 2006, pointed out that the session was intended to examine the preparedness of various departments at the airport.According to him, “The exercise today (Friday) was meant to test many varying levels. In years past we have dealt with one specific issue, whether it be a mass causality incident, a bomb threat or a fire”.McGovern noted that this year the airport was tested to respond to a mass causality incident and a bomb threat at the terminal building which went exceptionally well.He said too, “I think we will come away with things that we can learn from and implement as we move forward to build a better plan to respond even better in the future”.Participating in the emergency exercise were airport staff, the Civil Defense Commission (CDC), the Police Force, Fire Service and others.The need for airport personnel to be attentive to their surroundings and be prepared to offer help and even exit the building in an orderly manner was highlighted only last November when an aircraft crash-landed at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport.About 10 persons were hospitalised after the Boeing 757 aircraft crashed after it encountered hydraulic problems.